Nocturnal Teeth Grinding Linked to Sleep Apnea 

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Posted on Wednesday, July 7th, 2021 at 6:57 pm    

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that is characterized by periods where an individual’s breathing randomly stops and then starts back up again. There are different classifications of sleep apnea, the most common being obstructive sleep apnea. Other sleep apnea disorders include central sleep apnea and complex sleep apnea syndrome. Although there are different sleep apnea disorders, in general, most cases of sleep apnea result in a person’s breathing repeatedly stopping and starting again through the night. This disruption in breathing can wake a person up multiple times during the night, cause them to choke or gasp suddenly, and generally prevents them from getting a full and healthy night’s sleep.

While the major complaint about sleep apnea is that an individual feels fatigued the next day, the condition can trigger must more significant health problems. Sleep apnea is linked to low blood oxygen levels, high blood pressure, and heart problems. The condition can also increase a person’s risk for developing diabetes, eye problems such as glaucoma, and certain metabolic syndromes. In short, sleep apnea is more than just not getting a good night’s sleep. It is a disorder that needs to be taken seriously and treated immediately.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when there is some type of blockage obstructing an individual’s airway. This blockage could be a result of a deviated septum in the nose or the relaxation of certain throat muscles. The most common sign of sleep apnea is snoring. Other signs include:

  • Daytime fatigue or sleepiness
  • Gasping
  • Dry mouth
  • Sore throat
  • Morning headaches
  • Changes in mood or irritability
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Observed periods of breathing that stops (could be caught by the individual or their partner)
  • Decreased libido

Another less talked about symptom of sleep apnea is teeth grinding. Many people don’t associate grinding their teeth with sleep apnea, which can mean that the condition goes undiagnosed. The Sleep Foundation reports that there may be a link between obstructive sleep apnea and a condition known as bruxism, or teeth grinding.

Teeth Grinding and Sleep Apnea

Some medical studies have closely examined the possible connection between sleep apnea and teeth grinding. While there seems to be a correlation between the two conditions, there is still no clear explanation for why teeth grinding and sleep apnea are linked. One of the most prominent theories about the connection between the conditions is that sleep apnea triggers bruxism. It is hypothesized that when an airway becomes obstructed, the muscles in the mouth and jaw move to try and reopen the blocked airway. This muscle movement may trigger teeth grinding.

Another possibility is that clenching and grinding may help to lubricate the tissues of the mouth and the back of the throat, which become dried out due to sleep apnea. Other theories indicate that the anxiety and stress that the body undergoes when it stops breathing may cause the body to inadvertently clench or grind.

Signs of Bruxism

Some of the most classic signs that you may be a “teeth grinder” include:

  • Tooth pain
  • Fractured, chipped, or loose teeth
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Jaw pain
  • Facial pain
  • Neck pain
  • Headaches
  • Popping or pain in the jaw joint or temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Other sleep disturbances

If you have any of these issues, know you are a teeth grinder or have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it is time to talk to a professional. The New York OSA experts of Silent Night Therapy are a dedicated sleep team that can review your symptoms and direct you toward the right diagnosis and treatment for your condition.

You don’t have to live in pain or feel like you’ve been drained of energy before your day has even begun. Call us today at 631-983-2463, and let’s work together to get you a better night’s sleep.