Snoring and Teeth Grinding: Two Sides of the Same Ugly Coin

My family used to make fun of my snoring. At times, my wife would move to the guest room in order to get some well deserved sleep. My kids used to take recordings of my snoring and grinding and play it back during their Halloween parties to scare their friends.

But, we did not really take it seriously and did not connect my snoring with the fact that I so often woke up in the morning exhausted, cranky and unable and unwilling to face the day. Then, to add insult to injury, my wife woke me up one night and told me that I added a new trick to my night repertoire: I started grinding my teeth.

I realized that it was probably why I had headaches in the morning, and not one too many beers while watching a game. It was time to see my doctor and find out how I could be so unlucky to snore and grind teeth at the same time.

I am snoring and I am grinding teeth, so what?

bruxismOn their own, occasional snoring and teeth grinding are not serious and most people do not even know that they suffer from them until their sleeping partner tells them.

But, they are both caused by underlying issues that are more serious and should be addressed. Interestingly, some of the most common causes are the same for both disorders:

1. Stress: Stress is part of our modern way of life, but it can be a silent killer. Even when we sleep, we suffer from shortness of breath, anxiety and nervousness that manifest themselves through snoring or grinding teeth.
2. Nasal congestion: Clogged and stuffed nose prevents normal breathing and relaxed sleep;
3. Nasal polyps are little bags of inflamed tissue inside of our nasal passages which make breathing difficult
4. Sleep apnea may show itself by making you snore, but that is a blessing in disguise. This serious sleep disorder, which makes you to stop breathing during sleep, deprives your brain from oxygen and can have serious consequences.
5. Too much alcohol;
6. Being overweight.

Bruxism: a new political party?

bruxism-2While most of us know about teeth grinding, not many are familiar with its official name: bruxism. While it sounds like a new leftist political party, it is just a name of an unpleasant sleep disorder which erodes your teeth, gives you painful jaw, morning headaches and stiff neck. It is one of those diseases that often go away once you are out of a stressful period.

But, in some cases, the causes are physical and have to be treated by a medical device. Because the disorder is so common, various types of mouth guards are now available at almost every corner store. Or you can get a custom made model from your dentist for a good money.

Snoring: not a joking matter

Snoring people were always a brunt of jokes of those who have to listen to them sawing through the night, but the consequences can be downright serious.

You might not even know that your snoring disrupted your sleep, unless your wife kicked you in the ribs, but the kind of sleep you got was not the kind you needed: uninterrupted, deep sleep that is such a necessary part of healthy living. If you do not treat your snoring, it means that you did not address the reason you snore, such as sleep apnea.

While people who snore have more chances of grinding their teeth as well, the two sleep disorders do not directly cause each other. Only the underlying causes of both, such as obesity, sleep apnea or too much alcohol can make you snore and grind your teeth, hopefully not at the same time.

What to do?

Both snoring and teeth grinding are treatable, but finding a cause is the most difficult part. Fortunately, since both sleep disorders have similar causes, once you figure out what causes one, you can treat both.

Your dentist will be the first one to point out the consequences of teeth grinding: worn out teeth and misaligned jaw, headache and painful jaw.  He will suggest a device that would help prevent future teeth grinding, such as high quality mouth guard, he might send you to a good orthodontist, or he might suggest that you lose 30 pounds and cut on booze.

You will probably hear the same story from your general practitioner. Being overweight is killing you, mostly with high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes and such, but until it kills you it will make you snore and grind your teeth and suffer from sleep deprivation.

He will also suggest one of a number of devices that will allow you to breathe better and avoid snoring. Interestingly, some of the mouth guards that prevent snoring will also keep your jaws apart, making it impossible for you to grind your teeth.

I suggest that you take your wife with you when deciding on the type of device. She will not have to listen to your snoring any more, but she will have to watch you with a mask on your face or mouth or tongue controlling device in your mouth.

If you snore and grind your teeth then a jaw retaining mouthpiece is probably your best option. One of these will protect your teeth and help to prevent snoring.

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