Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding: What You Need to Know

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and teeth grinding are both common causes of poor sleep for individuals all over the world. But did you know that there may actually be a link between these two conditions? In this blog post, we will discuss what you need to know about the connection between sleep apnea and teeth grinding. Let’s get to it!

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that causes interruption in breathing during sleep. This can happen due to a blockage in the airway, such as from the tongue or palate, or it can be due to a problem with the nervous system. OSA can cause all kinds of problems, like loud snoring, gasping, or choking sounds during sleep.

What Is Teeth Grinding?

Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition in which people grind their teeth. This can happen during the day or at night, and it can be a habit or a reaction to stress. People who grind their teeth may not even realize they’re doing it, but it can lead to serious problems, like headaches, jaw pain, and even tooth loss.

What Is the Link Between Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding?

While the link between these two conditions is not fully understood, there are several theories. Let’s take a look at some of the most common ones below.

Theory 1: Sleep Apnea Causes Teeth Grinding

One theory is that OSA can cause teeth grinding. The idea is that when sleep apnea begins to constrict an individual’s airway, the movement of the muscles involved in chewing, may help to reopen it.

Theory 2: Teeth Grinding Causes Sleep Apnea

Another theory is that teeth grinding can . In this one, the thought is that there is something going on with the signals from the nervous system. More specifically, the ones that affect the nasal passages, heart rate, and muscles around the jaw.

These “teeth grinding” signals may also increase airway restriction as well as congestion, causing the disordered breathing that often characterizes OSA.

Theory 3: Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding Are Both Caused by Another Condition

There is also a theory that both of these issues are caused by another condition, like GERD or TMJ. This is because both of these conditions have been independently linked to OSA and teeth grinding.

What Are Some Common Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding?

While a CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure machine, tends to be the go-to treatment for OSA, it doesn’t always solve the problem of teeth grinding. So what can you do? Well, there are a few options.

If you suspect the grinding is from stress- or anxiety-related issues, then you may want to try relaxation techniques, like yoga or meditation. On the other hand, if the grinding is due to a misalignment of the teeth, then you may benefit from a custom dental night guard or mouth guard. Be sure to speak with a dental professional about your options.

The Bottom Line

Sleep apnea and teeth grinding are two common conditions that may be linked. If you think you may suffer from either condition, it’s important to seek treatment options, like a CPAP machine or dental night guard, to help alleviate your symptoms. Talk to your doctor and dental professional to see which treatment option is right for you.

Interested in a custom mouthguard to help with your teeth grinding issues? Click here to request an appointment with Hale Wellness Dental Studio today!