Is Teeth Grinding A Sign of Sleep Apnea?

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It might be a habit they don't even notice for individuals fast asleep and grinding their teeth. Night grinding may be likened to the sound of fingernails going down a chalkboard and making your bed partner insane. However, teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, could indicate other health issues, like sleep apnea. In some cases, when patients discover they have a sleeping disorder, it doesn't happen with their medical doctor but more often with their dentist. Dr. Edward Knight at Knight Dental Care in Midland, MI can diagnose and treat sleep apnea and teeth grinding with a personalized treatment plan. Read on to learn more about signs of sleep apnea and if a teeth grinding mouth guard can help.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which Midland, MI patients gnash, clench, or grind their teeth. When patients have bruxism, they may unconsciously clench their teeth during the day or at night while sleeping. There are various factors that can cause bruxism, such as:

  • Anxiety and stress
  • Malocclusion or irregular bite due to crowded, crooked, or protruding teeth
  • Sleep disorder, such as sleep apnea

What are the signs of sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which an individual repeatedly stops and starts breathing. Gasping for breath during the night causes men and women to wake up frequently, which can inhibit sleep quality and cause fatigue. Signs of sleep apnea can be frequent headaches, irritability, insomnia, dry mouth, and even teeth grinding while linking patients in a higher risk category to develop heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and diabetes.

What is the connection between sleep apnea and teeth grinding?

In sleep disorder studies, a pattern emerges with a high percentage of patients showing a correlation between sleep apnea and sleep-related bruxism. When the airway becomes constricted with certain sleep apnea conditions, the muscles in the mouth that mimic chewing allow for help to reopen the airway, thus leading to teeth grinding. Another reason could be that grinding and clenching teeth triggers the body to make more saliva to help lubricate the back of the throat, which can become dried out from labored breathing. Sleep-related bruxism has been seen as a way for a person's body to protect itself from the effects of this sleep disorder. During a dental examination, Dr. Knight will be on the lookout for signs of bruxism.

Will a grinding mouth guard help my sleep apnea?

Several studies have identified that people with sleep apnea conditions are also prone to grind their teeth. If Dr. Knight suspects a patient is struggling with sleep apnea symptoms, including clenching their teeth at night, it can be addressed with a custom-made night mouth guard. This oral appliance has proven effective at helping with sleep disorders and can be combined with other treatments for optimal results. After he examines your airway, jaw, and tongue, he can customize a grinding mouth guard. Once it is ready, patients are fitted, and small adjustments are made, so it fits properly. Patients will also be instructed on how to properly care for the grinding mouth guard to get the most out of their dental appliance.

If you are concerned about bruxism, signs of sleep apnea, or looking for a mouth guard to stop grinding your teeth, contact our office in Midland, MI, and schedule a consultation with Dr. Edward Knight at Knight Dental Care today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.