Understand the Connection Between Teeth Grinding and Sleep Apnea


Do you grind your teeth while you sleep? If the answer is yes, do you know if you also suffer from sleep apnea?  According to research presented at the American College of Chest Physicians’ 2009 international meeting, nearly one quarter of people who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) also grind their teeth at night. The number is even higher for Caucasians and men.

Eight percent of Americans suffer from bruxism, or teeth-grinding. This condition is commonly associated with stress and dental disorders, and over time can cause significant damage to your teeth, recession of the gums and jaw pain.

Researchers believe that the relationship between bruxism and sleep apnea is caused by an arousal response. When an episode of sleep apnea ends, the mouth may respond by gasping, snoring, mumbling or grinding the teeth.

Men generally have more severe cases of sleep apnea than women and may experience more of these arousal responses as a result. These factors may explain why men exhibit a higher prevalence of bruxism.

Caffeine use and anxiety may also contribute to teeth grinding. People with sleep apnea often feel tired during the day because of sleep disturbances and may ingest higher levels of caffeine to compensate. When sleep apnea is left untreated, it can cause mood disturbances like anxiety and depression.

If bruxism is not treated, patients can experience periodontal tissue damage, excessive tooth wear, jaw pain, headaches, excessive decay, temporomandibular joint pain and sleep disturbances. Although some people grind their teeth during the day, most damages are caused by grinding the teeth at night or during rest.

The findings highlight the importance of treating both sleep apnea and bruxism, and it is important to note that individuals may be already suffering advanced effects of teeth grinding before they even know they have a problem. If you experience one or both of these conditions, consult with Dr. Nguyen or your dentist, to determine the best dental sleep apnea treatment plan to restore your oral and overall health.  

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