Teeth Grinding – Snoring Connection

Grinding your teeth at night it is often associated with sleep apnea

Do you wake up tired? Does your jaw seem tight? Are your teeth sensitive? If these symptoms sound familiar then you may be grinding your teeth during the night which is a condition known as bruxism. Bruxism, if left untreated, can lead to tooth decay, headaches, and trouble sleeping.

There are a number of health issues linked Bruxism, including stress and teeth misalignment, however one of the largest risk factors is sleep apnea – a serious condition associated with health conditions that include high blood pressure, heart failure, cardiovascular disease, depression and type 2 diabetes. As the oxygen saturation in the blood goes down, arousal and increased brain activity occurs followed by an increase in heart rate and then muscle activity. The jaw opening and closing muscles are activated at the same time resulting in lateral (side-to-side) teeth grinding along with the tense muscles opening the airway for better air-flow. This mirco-arousal complex can occur over 30 times per hour during sleep in severe cases.

Fortunately, managing sleep apnea may also help to prevent nighttime teeth grinding. Lifestyle changes can also help.  Losing weight, stress management, treating nasal allergies, and quitting smoking, have proven to be effective. In addition, a dental guard or oral splint can help to prevent damage to the teeth caused by grinding and gnashing.

For moderate to severe sleep apnea, the most common treatment method is the use of a continuous positive airway pressure device ( CPAP). This 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.

The U Shine Dental team will now be screening for sleep-bruxing at your routine hygiene appointments due to the significant affect it can have on the teeth and to help promote over-all health. We have also arranged with the Team Maple Walk-in Clinic (Dr. Razzaq – in our building) to expedite referrals for Sleep Studies where beneficial.

Whether you’re noticing symptoms of teeth grinding, sleep apnea, or both, please ask us at your next appointment or schedule a consultation to we’ll have you sleeping soundly once again.

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