Approximately 1 in 15 Americans suffer from sleep apnea, which is a condition that dramatically affects your ability to enjoy a deep sleep. Sleep apnea can even be dangerous if not treated. Most of the time, it is the patient’s significant other that notices it first and refers them for sleep apnea treatment.
What does this have to do with a dentist? Studies show that bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a major indicator of sleep apnea. During obstructive sleep apnea, the airway muscles become so relaxed as you approach a deep stage of sleep that the jaw relaxes and actually obstructs your airway. Your brain senses the obstruction of air and shallow breathing and a person will often respond by clenching or grinding their teeth in a subconscious effort to reopen the airway during sleep. The cycle of compromised breathing and coming out of deep sleep can repeat itself up to 70 times during the night! A dentist, such as Park South Dentistry, can help determine if you have teeth grinding habits, which can in turn lead to a sleep apnea diagnosis. If you have one or more of these common signs of bruxism, you should see your dentist for treatment.
- A frequent sore or clicking jaw
- Flat, worn down teeth
- Morning earaches or headaches
- Sensitive teeth
Discovering and treating your nighttime teeth grinding can not only save your teeth, but it can provide a valuable indicator of possible sleep apnea. We all know the importance of a good night’s sleep, especially for your overall health and allowing the body to repair itself during deep sleep. Letting your dentist evaluate you for bruxism could mean better sleep for the rest of your life!