Obstructive sleep apnea is a condition which is very often complicated by additional disorders or problems. Many patients with this common sleep disorder had a problem with severe teeth grinding (bruxism)! According to a recent scientific study in Israel obstructive sleep apnea was even the highest risk factor for sleep bruxism!
Sleep apnea is characterized by loud snoring and so called arousal episodes. In these episodes the respiration stops for a rather long time (with a significant drop of oxygen levels). After this stop the patient often has a rather lood noise (like very loud snoring). The teeth grinding is often associated with these arousals and may also depend on the position at night. However, it is very important to think of this possible cause of bruxism.
Diagnosis requires an interview (including information by the partner) and a polysomnographia. Here the sleep is monitored with a special equipment.
With a special therapy method (possitive airway pressure respiration (CPAP) it is possible to handle the sleeping disorder rather effectively. This will not only improve the quality of life but can also have a positive effect on bruxism. Most patients of this study reported a significant reduction of bruxism after treatment.
The results of this study suggest that when sleep bruxism is related to apnea/hypopneas, the successful treatment of these breathing abnormalities may eliminate bruxism during sleep. More (Medline Abstract of the article)