The Cycle of Bruxism and Disturbed Sleep

Teeth grinding can be a sign of a much more dangerous condition known as sleep apnoea.

Have you ever been told that you snore? At first, this may seem like a bit of light-hearted humour, but in fact lots of people don’t take snoring seriously enough. Snoring can be linked to a much more dangerous condition known as sleep apnoea which can obstruct the airways and is associated with further health risks including stroke, diabetes and heart disease. Both snoring and sleep apnoea are also linked to teeth grinding, known as bruxism. If you’re confused about how all these conditions are intertwined, and want to know about treatment options, read on.

What is Sleep Apnoea?

As you sleep, your body relaxes, but if your throat muscles relax too much, this can cause your airways to become blocked which interrupts your ability to breathe. The soft tissue at the back of the throat collapses and is responsible for the unpleasant vibrating sound that is heard when someone snores. This pattern of sleep can be restless so the person with apnoea may wake frequently during the night.

Sleep apnoea is a dangerous condition which can cause symptoms such as loss of memory function, fatigue, depression and anxiety, high blood pressure and excess strain on the heart.

Understanding the Role of Bruxism

Nearly one in four people with sleep apnoea also experience teeth grinding, which is where the conditions can lap over each other. Interestingly, men appear to be more affected than women by bruxism.

Much like snoring though, you may not be immediately aware that you grind your teeth during the night, but there are some tell-tale signs to look out for. An Essex dentist explains that if you wake up with a headache, neck pain, a tight jaw or if your teeth feel particularly sensitive, then these might all be red flags. A visit to your dental surgery will help you to ascertain whether bruxism is occurring. Your dentist canthen identify if your teeth are wearing down due to the movement of your jaw going back and forth as you clench and grind your teeth.

Treating Sleep Apnoea

In this cycle of sleep and dental health problems, sleep apnoea patients may find that their treatment plan improves their bruxism, but equally those who are treated for teeth grinding can also experience an improvement in their sleep apnoea. Typically, the first port of call should be your dentist for an accurate diagnosis of the problem and to develop a treatment plan for you.

A dental guard is an important piece of protection that will prevent you from gnawing and gnashing your way through the night. This will improve your chance of restful sleep and reduce the possibility of long-term dental problems. For more severe cases of sleep apnoea, it may be recommended that you wear a continuous positive airway pressure device. This enables your airways to stay open to ensure that you breathe correctly and effectively. Studies reveal that patients with both bruxism and apnoea have benefitted significantly from wearing a CPAP, resulting in breathing complications and bruxism being alleviated completely.

If you or your partner are concerned about the possibility of snoring, teeth grinding or any other suspicious symptoms that you experience on waking, then get in touch with your dentist initially to discuss the possibilities.