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Can Sleep Apnea Cause Teeth Grinding?

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Sleep apnea can have a significant impact on your life. Not only do you wake up feeling fatigued, hazy, and irritable, but you can also increase your risk of developing heart disease, diabetes, or even experiencing depression. However, if you have sleep apnea and experience discomfort in your face, temple, and jaw in the morning, you might also be clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep.

But is sleep apnea at the root of this type of discomfort? Today, we’ll look at the connections between sleep apnea and teeth grinding (bruxism) while also going over some of the most common symptoms you can experience and what you can do to manage or even treat these conditions.

Still, it’s important to know that everybody’s oral health situation is a little different, so we recommend speaking to Dr. Saleema Adatia at our dental sleep therapy clinic to look closely at your symptoms. Book an appointment with our team and start your journey towards a more restful, rejuvenating night’s sleep today.

What Is Sleep Apnea & Bruxism?

Before we examine how these 2 issues may be connected, let’s look a little deeper at sleep apnea and bruxism.

Bruxism can be diagnosed by our team; however, we may need to perform a sleep test through a local sleep clinic to help determine what type of sleep apnea you have and how it affects your health.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that can affect your breathing patterns while you sleep. When you stop breathing, your brain triggers a reaction to wake you up and help you start breathing again, but this can happen numerous times throughout the night, affecting your sleep quality and causing symptoms like insomnia, snoring, or fatigue during the day.

There are 3 common types of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common and can occur when your throat relaxes while you sleep and obstructs your airway.
  • Central sleep apnea occurs when your brain fails to send signals to the parts of your body that help control your breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea, which is a combination of both obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

You can develop sleep apnea at any point in your life, but certain lifestyle choices and health conditions could increase your risk of experiencing this issue. Some of the most common risk factors include being overweight, smoking, consuming alcohol, and having a thicker neck circumference.


Bruxism is the clinical term for jaw clenching or teeth grinding. You may experience this condition when awake, but many people experience bruxism while sleeping, leading to discomfort in and around the face, jaw, and temples. This condition is commonly referred to as sleep bruxism.

Without treatment, bruxism could lead to several oral health problems. These issues can include:

You can develop bruxism for a variety of reasons, with some of the most common being stress and anxiety, crooked or misaligned teeth, malocclusion (poor jaw alignment), or even interrupted sleep.

How Are The Two Connected?

Researchers have found that even though there is a correlation between sleep apnea and sleep bruxism, we still don’t know why there is a connection between the 2.

One hypothesis believes that teeth grinding can occur when your breathing pauses because of sleep apnea. When your breathing pauses, the muscles in your jaw responsible for chewing may help reopen your airway while you sleep but also causes you to grind your teeth.

However, there is still much to uncover regarding the relationship between sleep apnea and sleep bruxism, and research is still ongoing.

Is There Treatment?

So what can you do to help manage sleep apnea and sleep bruxism? The first step is to book an appointment with our doctor to review your symptoms and possibly perform a comprehensive dental exam. In some cases, we may even refer you to a local sleep clinic to perform a sleep test.

From our findings, we can develop a personalized strategy to manage your symptoms, protect your oral health, and help you achieve a restful night’s sleep. We may offer a few different strategies, but the most common include:

CPAP Therapy

CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy can help manage sleep apnea symptoms. CPAP machines do this by continuously pushing air through your airways while you sleep via a mask. Your CPAP mask may cover your nose, mouth, or both depending on what is best for you.

Oral Appliances 

We can recommend various oral appliances to help manage sleep apnea or sleep bruxism symptoms. Sleep apnea appliances can help open your airways by gently pushing your lower jaw forward while you sleep, while nightguards could help protect your teeth from grinding while you sleep.

Changing Lifestyle Habits

How you treat your body can go a long way in helping you manage various sleep apnea and sleep bruxism symptoms. Some of the most common strategies include:

  • Eating a healthy, balanced diet
  • Practicing stress management exercises
  • Limiting your smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Exercising regularly

Visit Us for Help Treating Teeth Grinding

If you are experiencing discomfort in your face, temple, and jaw in the morning, you may be grinding your teeth while you sleep. This condition, known as bruxism, can lead to a variety of oral health problems, including tooth sensitivity, fractured teeth, tooth loss, and broken crowns or fillings. It is not uncommon for bruxism to occur alongside sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts your breathing patterns while you sleep.

If you are struggling with bruxism, we recommend visiting our clinic for help. Our team, led by Dr. Saleema Adatia, can perform a comprehensive dental exam and, if necessary, refer you to a local sleep clinic for a sleep test. From there, we can develop a personalized treatment plan to manage your symptoms and improve your oral health.

Don’t wait any longer to start your journey towards a more restful and rejuvenating night’s sleep – book an appointment with us today.

Dr. Saleema Adatia

Written by Dr. Saleema Adatia

Dr Adatia did her dental training at Tufts University in Boston MA and graduated in 2006.  Returning to her hometown of Calgary, Dr. Adatia worked as an associate for many years before starting Symmetry Dental.  

Dr. Adatia has focused her clinical practice to the dental management of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. She has completed extensive training in dental sleep therapy, including a residency at her alma mater, Tufts University, and multiple courses focused on evidence-based education and the medical aspects of sleep related breathing disorders.

Dr. Adatia is a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, which focuses on training dentists on how to provide oral appliance therapy for people who suffer from sleep apnea.  She has also been involved in clinical trials investigating the effectiveness of novel technologies for the treatment of OSA.

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