Is There a Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding? Update 05/2022

Do your jaw muscles hurt when you first wake up in the morning, and you have no idea why? You may be grinding or clenching your teeth as you sleep. Even though you’re increasingly fatigued during the day, you could not be aware of it because you’re sleep-deprived and unaware.

A misaligned jaw or teeth can induce tooth grinding, which can wear down the enamel.

In some cases, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been associated with tooth grinding. OSA patients typically wake up during the night because their respiratory system malfunctions, disrupting their breathing patterns. People with sleep apnea may also show evidence of bruxism or teeth-grinding, according to a study by the National Sleep Foundation.

The link between teeth grinding at night and sleep apnea is obvious. If you’re having trouble sleeping, what are some strategies you may do to help yourself?

The Link Between Grinding and Sleep Apnea

When our airways are obstructed, our bodies are supposed to send out stress signals in reaction. They travel through the bloodstream and eventually cause the jaw muscles to tense up. When you clench your teeth, it generates friction between the two rows of teeth on either side of your mouth.

When the upper respiratory airways are disrupted by sleep apnea, snoring, or hypopnea, bruxism can ensue. Once again, the brain senses this stress and instructs the jaw muscles to compress the throat’s soft tissues, allowing air to pass freely through the trachea.

Possible Explanations for a Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and Sleep-Related Bruxism

There is a correlation between sleep apnea and sleep-related bruxism, although research studies do not explain the underlying basis of this correlation.

In an attempt to understand the connection between these two disorders, sleep researchers have come up with a number of suggestions. According to these theories, sleep bruxism triggers OSA and vice versa, they occur independently, and there is a complicated and multidimensional interaction between the two.

All of these possibilities will be discussed in the parts that follow, but it is crucial to remember that research has not been able to prove convincingly that teeth-grinding causes sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea as a Risk Factor for Sleep-Related Bruxism

One theory is that sleep apnea causes tooth grinding. The idea underlying this theory is that teeth grinding occurs as a response to OSA’s pauses in breathing.

People who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea believe that when their airways get obstructed due to OSA, teeth grinding may help reopen them. It is also possible that the clenching and grinding help to lubricate the dry throat tissue caused by sleep apnea, which might cause dryness.

This perspective sees sleep-related bruxism as the body’s way of defending itself from the negative effects of OSA. OSA patients who experience teeth grinding during disrupted breathing episodes during sleep may be a subset of those who have OSA, according to this idea.

Sleep Bruxism as a Risk Factor for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep bruxism may play a role in the development of sleep apnea, according to some experts. The neurological system sends messages that influence heart rate, jaw muscles, and nasal passages, which may be the underlying mechanism. Congestion and airway constriction can lead to disordered breathing if teeth grinding signals are activated.

This theory has been called into question by the finding that only 25% of the time teeth grinding episodes occur before OSA-related breathing episodes in sleep studies of persons with both sleep-related bruxism and OSA.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Sleep Bruxism Occur Independently

Another possible reason is that OSA and sleep-related bruxism are linked, although there is no causal link between the two. There is no relationship between them, but they could both be caused by a different cause.

For this hypothesis to hold, it is important to note that the occurrence of OSA and episodes of teeth grinding are not sequential events. One sort of episode should almost always follow the other if there is a significant causal relationship

However, investigations to date have failed to find such an obvious trend. However, teeth grinding can occur before the disruption of breathing, which is more typical. People may grind their teeth or have disordered breathing at various times during the night without the other issue being present.

Due to the inconsistency, a different mechanism may be responsible for the development of OSA and sleep-related bruxism. As a likely cause, early research points to anomalies in dopamine and serotonin pathways, substances in the neurological system known as neurotransmitters.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea and Sleep Bruxism Have a Multifaceted Relationship

Some experts believe that the association between sleep apnea and teeth grinding is diverse and complex and that it might present itself in different ways in different people.

The neurological, cardiovascular, and respiratory systems are all affected by OSA. In addition to genetic and environmental factors, a person’s weight, architecture in the head and neck region, sleeping position, and other influences can all contribute. Similarly, sleep bruxism can be caused by a variety of reasons.

The most likely answer is that there is no direct, causal link between these conditions in all circumstances. As a result, research investigations have yielded conflicting and inconclusive results since distinct groupings of individuals may reflect different aspects of each concept.

What is the Significance of the Relationship Between Sleep Apnea and Sleep Bruxism?

This association between sleep apnea and nighttime bruxism may or may not be clinically significant until further research reveals its exact nature.

People with OSA or sleep-related bruxism should be aware that the two conditions may coexist. In this way, they can keep an eye out for symptoms and alert their doctor, who can evaluate whether more testing or treatment is necessary.

Both conditions may have a role in optimizing treatment if they are present. Positive airway pressure (PAP) therapy, for example, was found to be effective in treating both disorders in a case study. There are a number of mouthpieces that can assist cure OSA and minimizing teeth grinding, such as mandibular advancement devices (MADs).

How is Grinding Diagnosed and Treated?

Bruxism can be detected in your dental health even if you aren’t aware that you grind your teeth at sleep. The surfaces of your teeth may be eroded or fractured during an inspection by your dentist. You may also have loose or fractured teeth that are not caused by an accident or trauma. Ongoing jaw pain and periodontal disease are all possible side effects of untreated bruxism.

The underlying cause of bruxism will dictate the course of treatment. If you grind your teeth at night but don’t have sleep apnea, you may be able to benefit from an oral appliance created specifically for your needs.

If you have both OSA and bruxism, you may be able to use a CPAP mask to keep your airways open. When you use a CPAP machine to keep your airways open while you sleep, you may be assured that you will have a peaceful night’s sleep. Using a CPAP machine not only cures sleep apnea but also significantly reduces bruxism. For those who don’t want to deal with the cumbersome CPAP machine but still need to keep their airways open, a jaw positioning device can be used.

Do You Grind Your Teeth?

Drooling, daytime weariness, difficulty concentrating, a rise in coffee usage, and anxiety are all symptoms of grinding and sleep apnea, two serious medical problems. Hypertension and other systemic diseases may be associated with sleep apnea. It is possible that your dentist will recommend you to your primary care physician for additional testing should you suspect that you suffer from bruxism and sleep apnea. You can find out if you have OSA by taking a sleep apnea test at home or going for an overnight sleep study at a clinic.

Espire Dental’s dentists address a wide range of dental conditions, including bruxism, clenching, and grinding, among other issues. We value your dental health and will do everything in our power to ensure that you leave our office with a healthy, beautiful smile. Make an appointment with us right away by contacting us.
How sleep apnea and nocturnal teeth grinding are connected, and how you can get treatment —

Do you have aching jaw muscles in the morning and have no idea why? A disorder known as bruxism may be to blame for your sleepless nights. Despite feeling more exhausted during the day, you may not be aware that this is the case.

When the jaw or teeth are out of place, it can cause the teeth to grind against one other. However, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) has been associated with bruxism as well. OSA patients frequently wake up during the night because their breathing patterns are disrupted by their respiratory system shutting down. One in four people with sleep apnea also shows evidence of bruxism, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Sleep apnea is clearly linked to nightly teeth grinding. The question is, how can you properly control these situations so that you can sleep well?

The Link Between Bruxism and Sleep Apnea

Stress hormones are released when our airways become congested. They travel through the bloodstream and eventually cause the jaw muscles to tense up. When you clench your teeth, it generates friction between the two rows of teeth on either side of your mouth.

When the upper respiratory airways are disrupted by sleep apnea, snoring, or hypopnea, bruxism can ensue. Once again, the brain senses this stress and instructs the jaw muscles to compress the throat’s soft tissues, allowing air to pass freely through the trachea.

How is Bruxism Diagnosed and Treated?

Bruxism can be detected in your dental health even if you aren’t aware that you grind your teeth at sleep. The surfaces of your teeth may be eroded or fractured during an inspection by your dentist. You may also have loose or fractured teeth that are not caused by an accident or trauma. Ongoing jaw pain and periodontal disease are all possible side effects of untreated bruxism.

The underlying cause of bruxism will dictate the course of treatment. If you grind your teeth at night but don’t have sleep apnea, you may be able to benefit from an oral appliance created specifically for your needs.

If you have both OSA and bruxism, you may be able to use a CPAP mask to keep your airways open. When you use a CPAP machine to keep your airways open while you sleep, you may be assured that you will have a peaceful night’s sleep. Using a CPAP machine not only cures sleep apnea but also significantly reduces bruxism.

Do You Have Bruxism?

There are major medical disorders that might include daytime fatigue, difficulties concentrating, increased caffeine usage, and worry. It is possible that your dentist will recommend you to your primary care physician for additional testing should you suspect that you suffer from bruxism and sleep apnea. You can find out if you have OSA by taking a sleep apnea test at home or going for an overnight sleep study at a clinic.

Dentists at Levin Family Dental treat a wide range of dental conditions, including bruxism, with their expertise. We value your dental health and will do everything in our power to ensure that you leave our office with a healthy, beautiful smile. Make an appointment with us right away by contacting us.

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