Teeth Grinding Can Hide Sleep Apnea

Clenching and grinding your teeth is a habit that can cause permanent dental injuries, jaw pain, headaches, ear pain, back pain… This is why the relief splint is crucial, as it cushions the pressure at which The teeth and jaw are subjected.

However, Teeth grinding is not always due to bruxism. “Some patients may grind their teeth when trying to open the airway that is narrowed or obstructed,” explains Ana Boquete, professor of the Master of Orthodontics at the Alfonso X El Sabio University.

In other words, that “to the patient, When you have sleep apnea, you can't get air in and you try to open your airway,” he clarifies.

“And the problem –he continues– is that many patients with sleep apnea do not know they have it and use unloading splint».

The percentage is not described, but, according to the data provided by Boquete, 80% of the world population suffering from sleep apnea is not diagnosed. That is to say, many people with apnea believe that they have bruxism and have a splint for it, when “using that splint is bad because it does not prevent the jaw from going backwards and makes there less space in the mouth and therefore makes it difficult to enter of air,” he says.

Which further increases the risk of sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder in which breathing stops and starts repeatedly.

Hence the famous snoring, but this sleep disorder can compromise the patient, as it increases the risk of high blood pressure, the probability of suffering a heart attack, a cerebrovascular accident (such as a stroke), atrial fibrillation or falling asleep at the wheel. not being able to rest well.

Therefore, if you have any doubt (Loud snoring, waking up exhausted, waking up during the night or waking up with a dry mouth or sore throat are the main symptoms) it is important to see a dentist specialized in sleep apnea before continuing to use the splint.

This specialist can detect this disorder early. In fact, he is one of the first professionals who can detect it by certain characteristics inside and outside the mouth, such as, for example, that “the patient has the compressed jaw It usually causes underdeveloped nasal passages and predisposes you to sleep apnea. Also when the patient has a very voluminous tongue because he falls backwards when sleeping and blocks his throat, the same thing happens if he has big bell», he specifies.

You can also suspect it if, as Boquete explains, “you have the compressed, narrow palateor in those patients who missing teeth, because the tongue widens. In addition, whether the patient is overweight and is a man over 40 years of age or a menopausal woman increases the risk of having sleep apnea.

Regarding the extraoral part, there are patient profiles more likely to have this pathology, such as “those with an excess or defect of the jaws, Normally it is a jaw defect, or due to the backward position of the jaw that causes the patient's airway to be narrowed,” adds Boquete.

In all these cases, the dentist can treat you with a mandibular advancement device or refer you to a specialist.

What device is it with?

As the expert explains, there are mandibular advancement devices – a type of splint for the upper part and another for the lower part joined together – so that the jaw does not open or go backwards. It is made to measure and the patient will have to use it for life. Normally “it is indicated for patients with simple snoring or mild or moderate apnea. Not for severe cases, nor if there is a cardiovascular risk.

It is estimated that with these splints the severity index of apnea can be reduced “by 50%.” And by the way, with this mandibular advancement device the patient “will stop grinding his teeth,” she says.