The link between your teeth and sleep apnea

Nov 10, 2022

People with a chronic sleep disorder have trouble sleeping and wake up tired. Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, is one common sleep disorder that results in poor quality sleep among people with undiagnosed sleep apnea. This can happen dozens or even hundreds of times per night, and it can have a major impact on a person’s health and quality of life. A consultation with our Stittsville Dentist can help you get to the bottom of your sleep troubles and find a treatment plan that works for you.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition where throat muscles block your airways, and you stop breathing for some time at night when you are sleeping. One in every four people with this condition grinds their teeth during the night. Men are more susceptible to sleep apnea than women. 

This article discusses the symptoms and risks associated with sleep apnea and teeth grinding among adults and children, as well as their management and treatment to improve the quality of your sleep.


  1. Common Signs Of Bruxism & Sleep Apnea In Adults
  2. Common Signs Of Bruxism & Sleep Apnea In Children
  3. Risks Of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea And Bruxism 
  4. Managing Teeth Grinding And Sleep Apnea
    1. Lifestyle tips
    2. Treatment options 

Common Signs Of Bruxism & Sleep Apnea In Adults

You are most likely grinding your teeth at night if you wake up with:

  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Tired
  • tight jaw muscles
  • sensitive teeth

If your teeth are worn out or have changed in shape, it could be an indication of bruxism. 

Unlike bruxism, sleep apnea may be difficult to notice. Some of the signs to look out for include:

  • Insomnia and/or hypersomnia 
  • Lapse in concentration
  • Snoring loudly 
  • Waking up with a sore throat
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Waking up with breathing difficulty 
  • Mood swings and increased irritability 
  • Waking up to use the bathroom frequently 

Common Signs Of Bruxism & Sleep Apnea In Children

Symptoms of bruxism and sleep apnea in children are similar to the symptoms of ADHD. 

They include:

  • Difficulty with learning
  • Poor attention span
  • Poor performance 
  • Bedwetting 
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Heavy mouth breathing, whether asleep or a wake 
  • Recurring pauses in breathing during sleep

Risks Of Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea And Bruxism 

Undiagnosed sleep apnea may lead to the following health issues:

  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Acid reflux
  • Poor immune function
  • Mental health issues
  • Memory loss
  • Increased risk of stroke or heart failure

Continued teeth grinding at night can break, loosen, or wear down teeth, enamel, crowns and fillings. 

Managing Teeth Grinding And Sleep Apnea  

Simple lifestyle changes and treatment procedures can help remedy sleep apnea and teeth grinding for improved sleep quality.

Here are some lifestyle tips and treatment options you can use to eliminate bruxism and sleep apnea.

Lifestyle tips

  • Stress management
  • Daily exercising, other fitness and weight loss practices such as yoga 
  • Reduce alcohol intake 
  • Quit smoking tobacco 
  • Avoid sleeping on your back
  • If you live in dry places, use a humidifier 
  • Consistent sleep schedule and relaxing bedtime routine 
  • Avoid taking caffeine in the afternoon 
  • Avoid blue light, at least an hour to your sleep time 
  • Avoid eating at least 2-3 hours before you go to bed
  • Keep your room dark and the temperature low

Treatment options 

  • Medication
  • Surgery
  • Use of oral appliances
  • Discussing with your dentist

Oral appliances and custom night dental guards can help to:

  • Reposition your jaw or tongue to keep your airway open while you sleep
  • Protect the teeth against grinding and assist with jaw alignment

If you are considering a path to better sleep by eliminating teeth grinding, contact the Stittsville dentist at Mulkins Main Dental to discuss the options available.