There are many people that wake up feeling tired no matter when they went to bed. Many people clench and grind their teeth at night (whether they know it or not). We used to think that these were two separate issues that should be treated differently. But recent research has shown that these two may be connected.
During our exams, we routinely check for different signs of wear on the teeth. Sometimes it is easy to detect on visual examination and other times we check the progression using photographs. If we find you are grinding your teeth (bruxism), we would traditionally recommend a night guard to protect your teeth and jaw joint. But what is causing you to grind the teeth? Does it stem from brain function or does it result from you trying to open your airway to breathe better?
When someone is constantly plagued by fatigue, we discuss the possibility of sleep apnea. You are referred to your doctor or sleep specialist and they perform a sleep study to determine if you suffer from sleep apnea. If a sleep apnea diagnosis is confirmed, recommendations are made that range from using a CPAP to weight management.
Newer studies are showing that treating sleep apnea has helped treat teeth grinding. This gives us a new outlook on treating bruxism. We need to look at the possibility that these two conditions are related. And by treating your sleep apnea you can actually treat bruxism. This doesn’t work in every case, but it is an exciting development because dentists can potentially help identify cases or sleep apnea. I am not suggesting we are the ones to treat the apnea first, but since you typically see the dentist every 6 months we may be able to identify some issues in their earlier stages.
For more information, visit www.dentistwestchester.com.
Lee T. Brown, DDS
Brown and Kupper, DDS Inc.