The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding

The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding

Teeth grinding is a condition that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by involuntary, repetitive jaw movements during sleep, which causes teeth to grind together. While many people may never notice the symptoms of teeth grinding, for some it can be very painful and even lead to tooth loss. For others, however, teeth grinding can cause serious health problems, such as headaches, sore throats, neck pain, and jaw pain. In this post, we will inspect the causes of teeth grinding and how sleep apnea and teeth grinding are interconnected.

What Is Teeth Grinding? (Bruxism)

Bruxismis a term used to describe teeth grinding and occurs when you grind into your teeth by pressing the jaw muscles. Teeth grinding isn’t a problem for everyone, however, in certain instances, it could cause issues with sleep, damage teeth, or cause damage to the jaw.

While teeth grinding can be experienced at any time for any age group, it is most often observed at night and is more common in children as compared to adults. 15 to 40 percent of children and 8 to 10 percent of adults’ teeth grind when they are asleep.

In the case of sleep-related grinding of teeth the jaw is moved in a steady rhythm and muscles contract around every second. The teeth may create a grating, or clicking sound, or not make any sound at all.

Symptoms of Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

The symptoms that can be identified may result due to the forceful jaw muscles that are produced when teeth grind.

  • Morning headaches: Those grinding their teeth while they sleeping may have headaches after waking up early in the day.
  • Neck or jaw pain As teeth grinding can require more force than is required for normal chewing, it may cause neck or jaw discomfort.
  • Jaw clicking: People grinding their teeth while they sleeping may hear popping or clicking sounds when they move their jaws in the day.
  • Damage to teeth: Because grinding put a lot of pressure on teeth, it may cause damage or wear to teeth to the point that they might require dental restoration. Grinding may also alter the bite of a person and cause chewing to be harder.
  • Teeth that are damaged by nighttime grinding could be more sensitive to cold and hot temperatures.
  • The mouth injury caused by grinding and the clenching of teeth in sleep can result in bruising to the tongue, cheeks, or lips.
The Link Between Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding

Link Between Sleep Apnea and Teeth Grinding

The National Sleep Foundation notes that around 25 percent of people suffering from OSA are also prone to their sleep grinding. There are many theories about the relationship between OSA as well as grinding. One theory is that when you awake from sleep apnea the respiratory and cardiac systems send stress hormones to the body. This causes the jaw to clench and grind. Another theory is focused on the airway imbalance that can occur during an apnea (or the occurrence of snoring) which triggers jaw muscles to become tighter.

If your body isn’t able to enter the natural REM cycle in deep sleep, your brain is still active and can make you grind and clench your teeth at the time of sleep. It’s therefore frequent to notice damaged teeth in people suffering from moderate-to-severe OSA. The cause of nighttime bruxism, and the treatment options may differ. Keep in mind that not all sufferers of sleep apnea are affected. A custom-designed night guard is a suitable treatment for those whose bruxing behaviors are a result of stress or other reasons.

Treatments Available

Research has shown that less than 40% of people who use CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines consider the device to be helpful in enhancing their sleep. The weight of the device can make it difficult to be comfortable while sleeping, but in addition, the source of external air doesn’t do anything to widen the airway, which is narrowed. 

The best way to address the root of the problem is to expand the throat cavity. Part of the throat. Brooks Dental Brooks Dental can accomplish this by utilizing a comfortable, custom-made oral appliance that’s made to fit the lower and upper teeth. This device is made to physically move the lower jaw forward and thus open the back of your throat. In addition, it wraps around the upper teeth, safeguarding your teeth from damage of grinding. The appliances are officially referred to as mandibular advancements splints (MAS).


Sleep apnea is when you stop breathing while you sleep. It can cause headaches, high blood pressure, and more.

Sleep apnea can cause your jaw muscles to tighten and make your teeth grind together.

Some of the symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, dry mouth, and excessive sweating.


Tooth grinding and sleep apnea are two common conditions that can cause problems for people. The link between these two conditions is still not fully understood, but research is ongoing to try to understand it better. If you are experiencing any of the problems listed above, it is important to see a doctor and look for ways to fix them.

If you want to know more about different sleep related disorder check out here.

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