Most people know that snoring can prevent restful sleep, but there is another less prevalent issue that can be equally as problematic. If you often wake up with a tight, sore jaw muscles or your teeth feel especially sensitive in the morning, you may be suffering from a condition called bruxism.
Better known as clenching the jaw or grinding the teeth, patients who suffer from bruxism often wake up feeling unrefreshed or with jaw pain, neck pain, or headaches. Bruxism can happen any time of the day, but it occurs most frequently at night. Sleep bruxism often goes unaddressed, because many people are not aware that they have it. Often, a roommate or bed partner is best able to identify the issue because of the sound associated with teeth grinding.
In some cases, sleep bruxism is a result of stress or teeth misalignment. A dentist or oral surgeon can help to identify and diagnose the condition, which often presents as eroded teeth, unexplained loose teeth, or teeth with cracks or chips (that aren’t the result of a trauma to the face or jaw). In certain cases, your dentist can provide a mouth guard or perform corrective surgery, but it’s still a good idea to conduct a sleep study and/or be seen by an ENT. Why?
One of the biggest risk factors for bruxism is obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. OSA is a serious, sometimes fatal condition that occurs when a person’s throat muscles relax while they are sleeping, blocking their airway and interrupting breathing.
Nearly a quarter of all people who experience OSA also experience bruxism. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to tooth decay, trouble sleeping, or headaches. However, if OSA goes untreated, it can lead to very serious health issues like high blood pressure, stroke, irregular heartbeat, diabetes, depression, worsening of ADHD, and even heart failure or heart attack.
The good news is that managing snoring also helps treat teeth grinding. To manage sleep apnea, many doctors suggest CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) devices. These masks fit over the nose during sleep, and use air pressure to keep airway passages open and help to prevent snoring, and thus, sleep apnea. In studies, patients who suffer from both sleep apnea and teeth grinding respond very well to CPAP machines. The devices help to both stop their teeth grinding completely and to greatly improve breathing problems. For those people that are uncomfortable wearing the CPAP mask, there are a large variety of different devices used for sleep apnea or snoring.
For some patients, lifestyle changes may help cut down on side effects related to snoring or teeth grinding. Losing weight, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, quitting smoking, or treating nasal allergies can also help to eliminate bruxism AND obstructive sleep apnea.
For more information on teeth grinding, snoring, or how the two are related, call Marvel today at 931-230-7056.