Involuntary grinding and clenching teeth at night, known as Nocturnal Bruxism, is a significant problem for millions of Americans and can lead to a painful condition known as TMJ or TMD, Temporal Mandibular Dysfunction. It has been recognized for many years that a relationship exists between Nocturnal Bruxism and OSA.
Recent research conducted by Dr. Simmons has demonstrated that 25% of patients with OSA demonstrate Nocturnal Bruxism. Most interestingly his research has demonstrated that treating the OSA with CPAP resolves the Nocturnal Bruxism in most case. His research concludes that the Bruxism occurs during sleep in an attempt to protect a person's airway that would otherwise collapse during sleep. Frequently, patients can ultimately be successfully treated with a specialized dental appliance that holds the jaw forward during sleep.
Neurology of Sleep and Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders and Their Relationships to Sleep Bruxism
Conditions that affect sleep can impact overall health. More than 70 million Americans suffer from problems with sleep. The purpose of this article is to provide the basic science of sleep physiology and how it relates to disorders that are pertinent to dentistry. Concepts are presented that explain airway dynamics and how the jaw and tongue influence airway obstruction. Additionally, the explanation is given on an association between temporomandibular jaw dysfunction and bruxism during sleep.
(Excerpt from California Dental Association Journal article written by Dr. Jerald H. Simmons, February 2012)
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