Teeth Grinding, Snoring & Sleep Apnea
Look in the mirror. Are all your teeth short and have the same length, as if they’ve been worn down? Do you frequently wake up with a dull headache or pain in your face, jaw, or neck? Are your teeth always sensitive?
If so, you might be a bruxer—someone who grinds their teeth. Anywhere from 5 to 95 percent of us grind our teeth while asleep.
Teeth grinding is an unpleasant habit, and it’s also a serious dental health problem. Forceful contact between your teeth wears on the enamel and damages the roots, causing sensitivity and pain and often calling for major dental repairs. Besides hurting the teeth, bruxism also damages the chewing muscles and jaw joint and can even affect your facial expressions over time.
But do you know what the biggest health concern there is with teeth grinding?
It’s that teeth grinding is a red flag for a sleep breathing disorder–related issue, called “Sleep Apnea“.
Understanding the relationship between teeth grinding and sleep disorder “Sleep Apnea” is the key to ending both.
The Causes of Teeth Grinding
Medical experts often point to stress and anxiety as common causes for teeth grinding at night.On the other hand, and according to the National Sleep Foundation, about a quarter of all people with obstructive sleep apnea experience sleep bruxism.
Studies show that grinding your teeth can be a sign of an underlying sleep disorder, which endangers many aspects of health. This comes from a survival response to a constricted or blocked airway.
When you fall asleep, your muscles relax—including the muscles in your jaw and tongue. Both can obstruct the airway and cause you to stop breathing, called “Sleep Apnea“. Studies have shown that the body responds by grinding the teeth to reopen the airway.
Genetics plays a big part in the size and shape of your airway, and thus your risk of teeth grinding.
Luckily, managing sleep apnea may help to stop nighttime teeth grinding. Lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and quitting smoking, can help, as can treating nasal allergies. Since a blocked airway and sleep apnea are, most commonly, the root causes of teeth grinding, keeping the airway open at night is the best way to treat teeth grinding.
Mild to Moderate Sleep Apnea
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine now considers dental appliances a first line treatment for Snoring and mild to moderate Sleep Apnea, they are also ideal for patients with severe sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP or as an alternative when traveling where there is no access to power. Dental Sleep Appliances have been scientifically proven to be very effective; “over 95% of patients are satisfied with the level of improvement with their snoring when assessed and treated correctly”.
According to research, it was noted that “long-term use of a dental device achieved an 81% success rate in apnea improvement, which was significantly higher than the 53% success rate noted for the standard surgical treatment for snoring: uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).”
The oral appliances are fitted by dentist, which keep the airway open at night so you can access deep-stage sleep without it being interrupted by grinding, snoring, tossing and turning, or other breathing difficulties.
Moderate to Severe Sleep Apnea
The most common treatment method is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device ( CPAP). CPAP machines, which are prescribed by a physician based on the results of a sleep study. These tend to be prescribed for people at the far right of the sleep apnea spectrum (moderate to severe). If you start treating your sleep breathing difficulties early enough, you may never need to sleep with a machine. mask, which fits over the nose during sleep, uses air pressure to keep airway passages open, helping to prevent sleep apnea (as well as snoring, which often accompanies the disorder). Studies have found that when patients with both bruxism and sleep apnea use a CPAP, their breathing complications greatly improve and the grinding stops completely.
Whether you’re noticing symptoms of teeth grinding, sleep apnea, or both, working with your doctor can help clear up the issue and have you sleeping soundly once again.
If you’re grinding your teeth, we recommend the following course of action:
1. See first Dr.Miski, who can screen for teeth grinding, check for signs of sleep apnea, and/or make an oral appliance for you or he can advise you to contact your physician in case of severe sleep disorders.