Grinding Your Teeth at Night is a Mystery Worth Solving

grinding, bruxism, clenching, sleep apnea, arousal

We often hear from patients.  I grind my teeth at night, will the oral appliance replace my mouth guard?  In fact, the National Sleep Foundation states that 1 in for 4 people with sleep apnea also clenches or grinds their teeth at night.  Some symptoms of grinding your teeth at night include increased tooth pain and sensitivity, jaw or neck pain, pain that feels like an earache or even dull headaches that begin in the temple area.

Most often clenching and grinding of teeth is associated with stress.  What if we considered it a reaction to the stress of not being able to take a full breath of air while you’re sleeping?  That’s what research is suggesting.  There have been studies that show when patients are treated for sleep apnea the symptoms of clenching and grinding also decreases.

Practitioners believe that it could be a method used to arouse us enough to take a breath.  The hypothesis is that the action of grinding our teeth ‘wakes us up’.  It’s no surprise then that so many people with sleep apnea also grind their teeth.  This relationship has become so common that it can be considered a ‘red flag’ for sleep apnea.  Dentists and sleep physicians have recognized the need to have conversations with patients about how these two disorders interact with each other.

Research is continuing to understand more how these two interact and affect each other.  If you are experiencing the symptoms discussed earlier, be mindful that your body could be relaying a more important message about your quality of sleep. Grinding your teeth at night, while unpleasant, may just be the clue you needed to uncover the mystery of a sleep disorder.   We recommend you consult your sleep physician or primary care doctor with your concerns.

Thanks for reading, we appreciate your feedback!

-The Ohio Sleep Treatment Team

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