If you have sleep apnea, you know that the condition affects your overall health. But did you know that it may affect your teeth as well? Sleep apnea often comes hand in hand with teeth grinding, which can be detrimental to dental health. Here you will learn why sleep apnea can cause teeth grinding and what teeth grinding does to teeth. You will also learn what can be done to remedy the problem.
How Does Sleep Apnea Cause Teeth Grinding?
During sleep, your airway may collapse or become severely blocked. When this problem is registered in the brain, the brain will do all it can to correct it. For example, it may put you into a lighter stage of sleep to regain control of your jaw. While this is necessary to help you breathe, it can also have negative side effects. In some cases, one of these side effects will be teeth grinding.
Even if you don't believe that you grind your teeth at night, it is nonetheless possible that you do. Some signs of grinding to watch out for include teeth sensitivity, headaches (especially upon waking up), and jaw soreness. If you notice any of these signs, you will want to see a dentist. They can help you determine whether you grind your teeth or not.
Why Is Teeth Grinding Harmful?
Teeth grinding, if done often, may cause the following dental problems:
- Fractures or chipping of teeth
- Loss of tooth enamel
- Damage to dental work
Because of the problems associated with teeth grinding, you will want to prevent the habit in any way you can. The next section discusses ways to stop teeth grinding that has been caused by sleep apnea.
How Can You Prevent Teeth Grinding?
In cases where teeth grinding is the result of sleep apnea, reducing the habit will be a matter of treating sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea can sometimes be helped through losing weight, using nasal strips, and reducing habits such as smoking. For more severe cases, you may want to consider using a CPAP machine to help you breathe at night. Another option is to use a dental appliance designed to open up the airway during sleep.
Teeth grinding may also be improved through other means. Some things you may try include cutting back on caffeine, reducing your anxiety levels, and putting a warm washcloth against your cheek at night.
If you believe you grind your teeth due to sleep apnea, you should consult a dentist. If it turns out that you do grind your teeth, your dentist, like those at Mountainview Dental Dentists, can help you determine what steps to take next.