Sleep bruxism is the medical term for clenching or grinding teeth during sleep. This type of movement disorder occurs during sleep is a common among adults, adolescents and children. 60% of all bruxism cases are related to underlying airway issues including sleep apnea. Occasional bruxism may not be harmful but when it becomes a regular occurrence, it may be associated with moderate to severe dental damage, facial pain, and disturbed sleep patterns.

An important link is that between sleep apnea and sleep bruxism, evidence has suggested treating sleep apnea may also alleviate sleep bruxism.

People who have sleep bruxism may also suffer from headaches, earaches, facial/jaw pain, TMJ disorder and damaged teeth. Sleep bruxism may also be linked with other medical conditions, affecting overall quality of life.

Sleep Apnea and Sleep Bruxism Treatment Options

Oral Appliances:

Oral appliances come in various shapes and sizes. The oral appliances for treating sleep apnea, bruxism, and snoring are specially designed for that purpose.  The appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep. Most of these appliances work by repositioning the lower jaw slightly forward. This small change is, in many people, enough to keep the airway open during sleep.  Many authorities recommend routine assessment for sleep apnea after oral appliance therapy has been applied.

Positive Airway Pressure Devices:

Positive airway pressure machines, sometimes called CPAP machines, are used with a variety of breathing masks – this type of treatment is widely used for moderate and severe sleep apnea. A mask fitting over the nose or nose and mouth is worn during sleep, the machine forces pressurized air flows into the patient’s throat. The pressurized air keeps oxygen flowing and prevents the airway from collapsing. The effects of PAP therapy have proven – when patients consistently use their machines they feel better and, as a result of the reduction of apnea and hypopnea episodes, they encounter fewer complications of the disease.