Sleep Bruxism and Sleep Apnea

| March 18, 2012 | 0 Comments

From a medical perspective sleep bruxism and sleep apnea are two completely different disorders; however they frequently occur together and will be considered as such.

They both have the ability to interfere significantly with the quality of sleep, resulting in chronic insomnia.

Sleep Bruxism: Signs and Symptoms

While a diagnosis of sleep Bruxism is not easily made, it is usually on the basis of constant teeth grinding and clenching. Sleep Bruxism may result in many adverse effects to the body, some that may be debilitating. The most commonly encountered effects are:

  • Constant headaches.
  • Pain in jaw.
  • Tooth pain.
  • Jaw and gum inflammation due to secondary infection.
  • Onset of Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ).

Causes of Sleep Bruxism

It is incorrect to claim that a cause of sleep bruxism has been positively identified; rather there are other factors which show a higher relation to sleep bruxism. The commonly encountered causes are:

  • The most common cause is related to stress or anxiety.
  • Anger or frustration due to vented emotions.
  • Abnormally arranged teeth which can be represented by misaligned teeth rows.
  • Secondary to another disease such as Parkinson’s disease.
  • A response to pain, an earache for example.

Treatment of Bruxism: Home Remedies

There are methods that can be tried in the comfort of your home that would at least ease the frequency or severity of Bruxism. The most common methods are:

  • Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables before bed- this activity is very good exercise for your jaw. It helps to relax the jaw muscles, so you can sleep peacefully without grinding or clenching.
  • Try sleeping on your back- exactly how this prevents bruxism is unknown, but there is a definite less association with the disorder when compared to sleeping on the side or belly.
  • Place a cloth soaked in warm water around your jaw- this is another method that helps to relax the jaw muscles; to perform loop the cloth over each ear before bed to receive a soothing response.
  • Avoid alcohol, coffee or other stimulants six hours before bed- these beverages can cause more teeth grinding than the average drink. Instead, have some warm milk or herbal bed that will put you in a relaxed mood for sleep to follow.

Seeing your Dentist

Sleep Bruxism

Sleep Bruxism

If these solutions seem not to work for you, consulting your dentist or doctor will be the best course of action. The dentist may recommend a night guard or a custom mouth splint for you. While these devices do not guarantee a cure for bruxism, they serve another very important function; they prevent the damage caused by teeth grinding. The damage may vary from reduction in tooth enamel’s protective effect, to actual jaw and tooth inflammation. While you can simply purchase a night guard over the counter at your local pharmacy, they are less effective that custom splints which are tailored specially for you.

Another variable your doctor may address is your relative stress level. Due to the relationship between bruxism and stress, if he determines you are prone to stress or panic attacks, he may prescribe an anti- anxiety drug for you. Other cases, such as due to an abnormal bite may be addressed by implementation of proper filling, dental caps or other treatment determined by the doctor.

For the most part, however, what your doctor will recommend will be very similar to the home remedies outlined here.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea can be a frightening occurrence during sleep, which for moments at a time breathing is interrupted. Persons affected by sleep apnea may experience multiple episodes throughout the night, which can be particularly troublesome if the brain or body do not receive adequate oxygen.

Although there are two common types of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea is the more important, lethal of the two.  It occurs during sleep when the soft lining of the airways actually collapse, making breathing impossible. There is a high degree of correlation between sleeping and obstructive sleep apnea.  Under the influence of some drugs, such as alcohol sleep apnea can become worse.

Although sleep apnea can affect anyone, and it is actually considered normal to have some degree of sleep apnea, it is more possible if you possess multiple risk factors. These factors are;

  • Family members with a history of breathing disorders.
  • Older population (more than 40 years of age).
  • Being obese/ overweight.
  • A large neck circumference (over 17” for men or 16” for women).
  • Chronic sinusitis (sinus infection) or a naturally deviated septum.

Sleep Bruxism Related to Obstructive Sleep Apnea: The Conclusion

While it is common for persons to experience one without the other, the risk for the other one increases significantly in affected patients. The positioning of the tongue in persons with bruxism tends to make him more prone to airway obstruction, and persons having sleep apnea actually are the highest risk group of persons for developing sleep bruxism.

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Category: Teeth Grinding

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