Obstructive sleep apnea affects around 20 million Americans and can lead to hypertension, heart attack, stroke, depression, muscle pain, fibromyalgia, morning headaches, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teeth Grinding During Sleep can be Indicator of Sleep Apnea

Loud, chronic snoring is the symptom most commonly associated with sleep apnea.

But teeth grinding can also accompany obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and other sleep disorders. In addition to serving as a potential warning sign of sleep apnea, sleep-related bruxism—grinding your teeth while you sleep—can also lead to tooth and jaw problems.

Nighttime teeth grinding can cause premature wear on your teeth, as well as place excessive pressure on your jaw and the connective network of joints, muscles, tendons, nerves and bones between your jaw and your skull. According to a Dec. 6 CNN Health blog titled “Teeth-grinding could signal sleep problems,” early recognition of sleep-related bruxism could also prove helpful in diagnosing sleep disorders and allow for earlier treatment, which would reduce the risk of the dangerous health conditions associated with sleep apnea.

Teeth grinding during sleep occurs in approximately 14 to 17 percent of children, according to the blog, and seems to be hereditary. If sleep apnea or other sleep disorders also run in the family, sleep-related bruxism may warrant additional testing for OSA.

For some patients, treatment options such as custom-fit oral appliances can be effective in both maintaining a positive airway and eliminating teeth grinding.

If you experience snoring, teeth grinding or other symptoms of sleep apnea, please contact a dentist near you who specializes in sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment.

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