Are Teeth Grinding and Snoring Related?

teeth grindingMany patients who have sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) also have teeth grinding issues and TMJ issues.  SDB can range from frequent loud snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

They frequently report that they wear a mouth guard made by their dentist to reduce damage to their teeth.

Why is managing snoring and sleep apnea critical to resolving teeth grinding?

It’s important to understand why successful management of the snoring and sleep apnea cannot only resolve these critical health issues but also may resolve the teeth grinding and associated TMJ issues.

When patients enter sleep, they are initially at a light level of sleep. In this light level, the muscles of the entire body including the grinding and chewing muscles remain active.

In normal sleep, the patient will then go into a deeper phase of sleep called slow-wave sleep. The muscle tone throughout the body, including the chewing muscles, becomes near paralyzed with very low activity in this phase. The chewing muscles have very little tone and minimal grinding is likely to occur.

As sleep progresses, especially in the second half of the night, the patient goes into REM sleep which involves complete paralysis of all muscles except for the eyes and diaphragm. The chewing muscles are inactive and no grinding will occur.

SDB results in interruption of these deep states of sleep (slow-wave sleep and REM sleep). Patients are “aroused” to lighter levels of sleep when they have episodes of loud snoring or apnea.

The patient with SDB spends much more time in the phases of sleep that allow for teeth grinding, damage to teeth, and TMJ injury.

Schedule A Consultation

Sometimes in health care, we put a bandaid on the symptoms instead of addressing the underlying cause. If you have an issue with teeth grinding and/or TMJ issues and also a history of sleep-disordered breathing, such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea, Contact us today at 512.601.0303 to schedule an appointment for a comprehensive evaluation and a better plan.

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Posted in: Sleep Apnea, Snoring

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