clenching and bruxism

Clenching and Bruxism: The New Red Flag for Sleep Apnea

Clenching and Bruxism: The New Red Flag for Sleep Apnea

Poway and Rancho Bernardo, CA

Many people clench and/or grind their teeth, also known as Bruxism, and do so while sleeping. In fact, most people who have bruxism or clench are unaware that they have it. Bruxism (grinding) is caused by bite interferences due to a misaligned or bad bite.  Researchers are now flagging bruxism and clenching as a sign of . Your , Dr. , has got some information for you on who is at risk, how to tell if you have bruxism, and how your dentist can treat bruxism.

A study conducted by Swedish scientists revealed that nearly half of all women ages 20 to 70 suffer from sleep apnea to some degree. If you grind and clench your teeth while sleeping, you are at an even higher risk of developing this sleep breathing disorder that rouses you from the deep stage of the sleep cycle. In other words, grinding your teeth while you sleep may be the result of why you wake up tired all of the time.

While older, overweight men were typically thought to bear the highest risk of sleep apnea, here are the new at-risk groups.

  • Petite women
  • Children who have behavioral disorders such as ADD or ADHD
  • People with a disproportionally large neck
  • People who were not breastfed as infants
  • People who suffer from anxiety or depression
  • Anyone who grinds and clenches their teeth at night (or while sleeping)

Determining whether you have bruxism may be difficult for you to tell. After all, teeth grinding typically occurs while sleeping. However, there are clear signs that point to the fact that someone may indeed have bruxism, and Dr. Nicol Cook can easily identify with an exam. Also, you can simply ask your partner if he or she notices any loud teeth grinding noises or snoring while you sleep.

You may have bruxism if you:

  • Have wear on your teeth (flat on the chewing surface)
  • Have abfractions or small fractures in your teeth
  • Have sore jaw and facial muscles, especially upon waking up
  • Have TMJ pain
  • Your jaw clicks or pops when you open and close it
  • Experience regular headaches, especially upon waking up

These are certainly not all possible signs that you may have bruxism. However, it is a list of the most common symptoms associated with bruxism. Therefore, if you experience any one of these issues, you should seek the consultation of Dr. Cook at Smiles by Dr. Cook to receive an evaluation for bruxism and sleep apnea.

Treating bruxism could be two-fold at this point. Typically, the first line of defense in protecting a patient’s teeth against the effects of bruxism is to fabricate a custom-made mouthguard to wear while sleeping. This way, the mouthguard absorbs the brunt of the force exerted when you clench and grind your teeth, saving your actual teeth from damage and keeping you out of pain. If Dr. Cook discovers that you do in fact have bruxism or sleep apnea, an airway evaluation may be appropriate. Since sleep apnea can actually cause a patient to have bruxism, it is important to not only treat the symptoms but the root cause of the problem, which could be a narrow airway.

It is important to seek a consultation with an experienced dentist in Poway such as at Smiles by Dr. Cook, instead of attempting to treat yourself with an over-the-counter mouthguard found in stores. This is because you may not even have bruxism, and wearing a cheaply made mouthguard could end up causing you TMJ and bite problems in the long run. A custom-made mouthguard can be adjustable by your dentist, and can also be used to help open the airway and treat your sleep apnea, should it be found that you have this disorder.

Custom Mouthguard in Poway

If you would like to learn more about bruxism or schedule a consultation for a custom-made nightguard, call us at (858) 673-0141 or contact Smiles by Dr. Cook today. We welcome patients of Poway, Carmel Mountain, and Rancho Bernardo, California.