Teeth Grinding - Snoring Connection

Do you grind your teeth at night or does someone you care about?

It may affect more than your teeth. Not only is grinding your teeth at night (also called sleep-bruxism) extremely destructive to your teeth; it is often associated with a condition called sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition during sleep where the airway is partially obstructed by the position of the tongue or soft tissue in the throat. Narrowing of the airway during sleep makes the body work harder to get oxygen to brain and can lead to symptoms including high blood pressure, daytime fatigue, acid reflux, weight gain, as well more difficulty managing of other chronic conditions such as diabetes.

More and more research is now pointing to a connection between sleep-bruxism and airway disturbances such as sleep apnea. The mechanism is thought to be as the oxygen saturation in the blood goes down, arousal and increased brain activity occurs followed by an increase in heart rate and then muscle activity. The jaw opening and closing muscles are activated at the same time resulting in lateral (side-to-side) teeth grinding along with the tense muscles opening the airway for better air-flow. This mirco-arousal complex can occur over 30 times per hour during sleep in severe cases.

Risk factors for sleep apnea include the following:
  • Male
  • Over 40yrs
  • Overweight
  • Greater than 17 inch next circumference
  • Snoring, waking up gasping, apparent episodes of not breathing while asleep
  • Sleep bruxing (grinding that produces noise)
These are the most common risk factors. However, sleep apnea can occur in adults as well as children even without know risk factors and can only be confirmed with a proper sleep study at a qualified sleep lab.

If you feel you or someone in your family may be grinding their teeth at night or have some of the other risk factors associated with sleep apnea please ask us at your next appointment or schedule a consultation.

The Forman Dental Team will now be screening for sleep-bruxing at your routine hygiene appointments due to the significant affect it can have on the teeth and to help promote over-all health. We have also arranged with the Team Maple Walk-in Clinic (Dr. Razzaq ? in our building) to expedite referrals for Sleep Studies where beneficial.