How are Sleep Apnea and Bruxism Related?

Posted on: February 16, 2019

A lot of people experience both bruxism and sleep apnea, and often times, they correlate. However, most people don’t realize that the two can be related.

Bruxism and sleep apnea are both problems that may relate to a person’s overall health. They can both be irritating and disruptive of one’s night, but being aware of how they relate may help a person who is struggling.

In this article, we will go over how bruxism and sleep apnea are related. Being aware of what connects the two may help someone who is experiencing problems with either or both. Read more below so that you can find out how these two painful conditions relate to each other!

How bruxism and sleep apnea are related

Defining the two

It is first important to understand what sleep apnea and bruxism both are. This will better help a person to understand how the two relate. Below, we have defined both sleep apnea and bruxism.

Sleep apnea: Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder where a person’s breathing repeatedly stops and starts. The throat muscles become relaxed and the airway becomes blocked, thus putting a halt in one’s breathing.

Bruxism: Bruxism is simply when a person grinds their teeth involuntarily. Most often, a person grinds their teeth when they are asleep.

How the two relate

When someone experiences sleep apnea, their breathing is typically interrupted regularly which can cause stress to the entire body – including the jaw muscles. Because the jaw muscles are the main muscle used to grind the teeth, it is possible that a person may feel tension or stress on their jaw which can lead to bruxism.

Another idea that has been said by professionals is that when one is experiencing sleep apnea, the tissues that coat the airway fail which instability. Instability within the body will likely notify the brain that something is wrong. The brain may signal the jaw to tighten so that the softer parts of the throat are stiffened which can help with prevention of the airway collapsing, thus allowing for regulated breathing.

All in all, people that grind their teeth while they’re asleep may be doing so because of sleep apnea or the other way around. Someone who has difficulty breathing throughout the night may clench their jaw in an attempt to breathe better.


Sleep apnea and bruxism are both serious conditions that should be addressed by a health professional. Consulting with a dental or oral health specialist may help someone determine whether or not they’re experiencing either condition. Both of these conditions can be treated and maintained so that a person can experience a better night of sleep each night.

If you have questions about sleep apnea or bruxism and how they’re related then reach out to our office today so that we can help you. Let our trained professionals assist you! Give us a call or stop in today.

Request an appointment here: or call Old Alabama Dental Care at (770) 200-4032 for an appointment in our Alpharetta office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Do I Have Sleep Apnea.

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