What is Bruxism and is it Linked to Sleep Apnea?

Bruxism is the term we use to describe chronic teeth grinding and clenching. Chances are if you have bruxism habits, you’ll notice other symptoms like:

  • Headaches
  • TMJ issues
  • Jaw pain
  • Worn or chipped teeth
  • Broken dental work

But did you know that bruxism is also linked to sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea? If you wake up with a headache or sore jaw, or think you’re grinding your teeth, you may actually need to be examined for sleep disordered breathing.

Why Bruxism is Linked to Apnea

When you have sleep apnea, your body is deprived of oxygen. One of the natural reactions to kick in when you’re not getting enough air is for your teeth to shut tightly against one another, clenching the jaws and TMJ, and for the teeth to sometimes wear back and forth. Although it seems counterintuitive, this instinct is a simple reaction your body has when it’s not getting oxygen.

Instead of treating your bruxism symptoms with a splint for teeth grinding, the better scenario is to manage your sleep apnea. That way your body gets the oxygen it needs and as a result, your jaws don’t automatically clench and grind while you’re trying to sleep.

More Serious Than Bruxism

Although worn and chipped teeth may be your biggest concern, sleep apnea can significantly increase your risk of a cardiovascular event. Treating sleeping disorders could essentially save your life by preventing a heart attack.

If you suspect that you have sleep apnea or you’re struggling with bruxism, schedule a no-pressure consultation at Buford Sleep today. Our dental sleep medicine team is happy to answer any questions!