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Sleep Apnea and Bruxism Treatment

If sleep apnea is affecting your health and quality of life, we can help. Our doctors are an experienced team of family dentists with expertise in treating both sleep apnea, sleep bruxism and snoring. These conditions are closely linked. In fact, sleep apnea is one of the most common reasons for patients to show signs of nocturnal teeth grinding (sleep bruxism). By effectively treating sleep apnea and bruxism, our doctors can restore your night’s sleep, improve your quality of life and protect your smile from teeth grinding damage.

What is Bruxism?

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause permanent damage to the teeth and gums if left untreated. During routine dental visits we look for the signs of teeth grinding such as worn or damaged teeth. There are several reasons why patients may grind their teeth, but an underlying bite problem, or TMJ disorder, is one of the most common diagnoses.

Bruxism can also be the undiagnosed cause of a range of painful symptoms, including:

  • Frequent headaches
  • Jaw pain
  • Ear pain or feeling of fullness in the ears

Bruxism is most prevalent in women and generally found in about one-third of the population. Common symptoms of bruxism include a sore jaw, headaches, muscle tension or earaches. Individuals who react to stress with anger, pain, frustration, or aggression are most commonly affected. People with bruxism may also have other biting habits, such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips, or the insides of their cheeks.

Causes vary, but may include (but are not limited to):

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Misaligned teeth.

So, how do you stop an unconscious habit? A thorough evaluation will allow us to check your teeth, tissues, and muscles. If we determine that you suffer from bruxism, we’ll create an orthotic appliance (also known as a night guard or splint) to prevent grinding and clenching. Many types of night guards exist, and patients react differently to the various styles. If one appliance does not work, another may. In many cases, simply wearing a night guard will eliminate the problem. However, if the condition persists, we can prescribe alternative therapies to correct the issue.

Some practices that can relieve symptoms of bruxism:

  • Stress and anxiety management
  • Focused facial relaxation massage/stretching of face and neck muscles
  • Applying ice or wet heat
  • Proper rest
  • Eating soft foods
  • Hydrating the body

How to Treat Bruxism

Addressing bruxism is important to relieve symptoms and prevent permanent damage to the teeth and/or gums. Our Doctors will discuss your lifestyle habits and evaluate your oral health in order to recommend the most effective treatment and restore a healthy smile.

  • Mouth guard/Night Guard: a custom mouth guard is the most conservative approach and often sufficient for patients with mild concerns or those who may grind their teeth in response to stress. At the first appointment, we will perform a thorough assessment and will take impressions to design a custom appliance that will fit snugly and comfortably in your mouth. Worn during sleep or stressful situations, a mouth guard repositions the jaw to prevent bruxism and reduce stress on the teeth, gums and jaw joints. After we deliver your custom mouthguard, we have you return to the office a week later to make any fine adjustments needed for the perfect fit.
  • Restorative Dentistry: At times, bruxism when left undiagnosed, will cause damage to the teeth and existing dental work. We will recommend appropriate restorative procedures to address tooth damage or worn teeth for a lasting smile.
  • Orthodontics: If crooked teeth are the underlying cause of bruxism and/or a TMJ disorder, we offers orthodontic treatment with Invisalign clear braces and other clear aligner therapies. These therapies correct a poor bite and will allow for a more comfortable lifestyle for years to come.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, enabling soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, repeated cessations in breathing can occur, often reducing oxygen levels by up to 4%. These breathing pauses, of anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute, are followed by brief awakenings that can significantly disturb your sleep.

While sleep apnea is often accompanied by snoring, teeth grinding and daytime sleepiness, it can lead to more serious health problems if left untreated. Your risk becomes higher for high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes and chronic acid reflux. Not to mention, your overall well-being and quality of life can suffer dramatically. If you experience snoring, gasping or choking while you sleep, turn to the Parker Dental Group for the most proven treatments in sleep apnea.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Our doctors, along with trained medical physicians diagnose your sleep apnea. We utilize sleep specialist as well as highly trained local ear, nose and throat (ENTs) physicians to evaluate your airway blockages. Worn-down tooth enamel, receding gums, and even multiple cavities can all be indicators of sleep apnea, and your dentist will recognize these. Your dentist’s deep understanding of the structure of the mouth and jaw allows him to identify excess soft tissues in your mouth, which leads to the condition of sleep apnea.

Some of the most common signs of undiagnosed sleep apnea that you (or a loved one) can recognize on your own including:

  • Constant exhaustion. Poor sleep can be caused by many things, but if all other health conditions and temporary situational conditions (hello, parents of newborns) have been ruled out, you could be experiencing disrupted sleep cycles.
  • Loud snoring, gasping, or choking. Excessive, loud snoring may indicate undiagnosed sleep apnea. Your body makes these noises to try to breathe normally again.
  • Morning headaches. People who grind their teeth at night often wake to headaches, but oxygen deprivation caused by sleep apnea can also create morning headaches.
  • Using the bathroom at night. When you are in a lighter sleep more often than you should be, your body will recognize this and may tell you that you have to urinate instead of allowing you to wait until morning as usual.
  • Mood swings and memory problems. Lack of sleep can make you cranky, irritable, and prone to forgetfulness.
  • Needing to nap. If you can’t stay awake during the day and chronic fatigue or side effects from medications are not the cause, you may have exhaustion from sleep apnea.

Risks of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea

Your body needs restorative sleep. If sleep apnea interferes with your ability to rest your brain, heart, other vital organs, and muscles you are less equipped to fight off infection or illness, and are susceptible to developing other health problems, including:

  • Cardiovascular disease, leading to heart attack or strokes
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Chronic headaches
  • Weight gain
  • Gum disease
  • Chronic acid reflux
  • Anxiety and depression

Oral Appliances to Stop Sleep Apnea and Bruxism

Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. A custom-fit snoring appliance, similar to a nighttime mouth guard, can be the answer to an improved night’s sleep and revitalized health. The guard fits over your upper and lower teeth, realigning the position of the jaw and tongue to keep the airway open.

Non-invasive, comfortable, quiet, and convenient, an oral appliance supports your jaw in a more forward position, which helps maintain an open airway while you sleep. This can greatly reduce sleep apnea episodes and snoring. Since research indicates that an increase in teeth grinding is directly proportional to the increase in frequency of apnea episodes, oral appliance therapy can also protect the health of your smile.

You deserve a good night’s sleep. Revitalize your life, protect your teeth from grinding damage, and improve your REM cycle with an appointment at the Parker Dental Group to discuss oral appliance therapy for sleep apnea. Contact us today to schedule your consultation.

Snoring Appliances

Our doctors provide oral appliance therapy as an effective treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. A simple custom-fit snoring appliance, much like a nighttime mouthguard, can be the answer to an improved night’s sleep and revitalized health.

Oral appliance therapy is a non-invasive treatment that is comfortable, quiet and convenient. By wearing this appliance, your jaw can be supported in a more forward position, which helps to maintain an open airway while you sleep. This can greatly reduce sleep apnea episodes and snoring. Since research indicates that an increase in teeth grinding is directly proportional to the increase in frequency of apnea episodes, oral appliance therapy can also protect your smile.

At the Parker Dental Group, we take your quality of sleep seriously, as it can affect your appearance, relationships, health, energy level and ability to enjoy life. Early diagnosis and treatment for sleep apnea and sleep bruxism are critical. If you have been told that you snore or grind your teeth at night or if you suffer from excessive fatigue during waking hours, contact our office today and schedule a consultation.