Sleep Apnea and Teeth GrindingNovember is National Sleep Comfort Month and it’s important to remember how important sleep is to our overall health. Sleep apnea and teeth grinding can rob you of precious hours of recovery sleep. Let’s take a look at possible solutions to helping you get a better nights rest.

Science has yet to understand why we sleep, but we know that proper sleep improves your brain function, memory, heart health, longevity, weight loss, and overall well-being. Unfortunately, you’re not getting the kind of sleep you need. According the American Psychological Association, almost two-thirds of all adults have trouble sleeping several nights a week. Imagine that? Many lifestyle factors play into these lackluster snoozes, but did you know your teeth are associated with several common sleep issues? If you’re waking up exhausted or not having the energy you need throughout the day, it may be time to see your dentist.

Snoring. Let’s face it – a loud, rumbling snore can disturb your sleep and the sleep of everyone around you. No one wants to admit they do. It’s embarrassing. In addition to being embarrassing and uncomfortable, snoring can interrupt your REM (rapid eye movement) cycles, causing you to get less rest than you think you are. Many people believe snoring is caused primarily by nasal blockages, but the most common source is a misalignment of the soft tissue far back on the roof of your mouth. When air can’t pass freely through your mouth and throat to your lungs, this area can bump up against your uvula, creating that grunting, rumbling vibration we’re all so familiar with.

Your teeth and jawbones are the key to proper mouth alignment, so it only makes sense that your dentist could help you alleviate this little sleep problem. Wearing a mouth guard can slightly shift your jaw so air flows properly to your lungs. Over-the-counter night guard are a quick fix, but they are generally bulky and uncomfortable. A custom snore guards can be created based on the exact shape of your teeth and gums. These devices fit so seamlessly in your mouth you can focus on getting a peaceful, snore-free rest.

Grinding. Do you wake up with a headache, toothache, ear pain, or a sore jaw? If so, you could be one of the many Americans suffering from bruxism, or teeth grinding. Due to stress, anxiety, malocclusion (improper teeth alignment), or aging, some people unconsciously grate their upper and lower teeth together as they sleep. Grinding is bad news for your teeth all around. It can wear away your protective enamel, making it easier for your teeth to get cavities and become more sensitive to hot or cold. It can also interfere with your sleep, as your facial muscles may become sore and pull you out of a more restful cycle. In extreme cases, you may grind your teeth together so hard that the sounds of the teeth hitting together might wake you or even your partner. Again, a personalized night guard will protect your teeth from this harmful habit. You should also work to reduce your stress. It’s the number one cause of bruxism.

Sleep Apnea. Snoring or grinding your teeth could be symptoms of a much more serious condition, sleep apnea. If you are one of the 12 million Americans with sleep apnea, your airways become so obstructed during sleep that you stop getting adequate oxygen to your brain, forcing your mouth open to gasp for air, and you wake up. This process could continue to wake you anywhere from five to 70 times every hour, preventing a deep sleep. This condition could ultimately lead to stroke, high blood pressure, a heart attack, or even death, so it is important to take any symptoms of sleep apnea very seriously.

If you have questions or concerns about sleep disorders affecting your smile, make an appointment today with Dr. Farless at 336-282-2868 or visit our website at www.gsodentist.com.

Dr. Farless also proudly serves Greensboro, Brown Summit, Jamestown, High Point, McLeansville, Summerfield and all surrounding areas.