Sleep-associated bruxism refers to the repetitive grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep. In a minority of cases, the term refers to repetitive bracing or thrusting of the jaw. Bruxism can cause a person to grind their teeth so hard while sleeping that they wake up from the noise. A bed partner can also voice annoyance and sleep-disruption by the gnashing sounds of teeth grinding.
Bruxing can occur from a few times to hundreds of times/night. Sleep-associated bruxism can interfere with a restful night of sleep, leading to fatigue and sleepiness the next day. Equally commonly, sleep-associated bruxism can cause the patient to wake up with a sore jaw, headache, and even broken teeth. However, no direct relationship has been observed between the severity of sleep-associated bruxism and the appearance of clinical signs and symptoms.
Bruxism is not-uncommon among type A personality individuals as well as among caffeine and nicotine users. Children and adults with sleep-associated bruxism manifest higher scores in stress, anxiety, and psychiatric scales compared to control individuals. Forms of sleep-associated bruxism associated with the use of psychoactive medications, recreational drugs, or a variety of medical disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s Disease, REM Sleep Behavior Disorder, Down’s Syndrome) are referred to as secondary sleep-associated bruxism. This latter type of bruxism is observed in children with cerebral palsy and/or mental retardation, as well as in adults with abnormal movements during sleep and/or with sleep-associated breathing disorders. Obstructive Sleep Apnea and sleep-associated bruxism commonly co-occur.
The good news is that sleep-associated bruxism generally is easy to diagnose and treat. Don’t spend another month grinding your teeth during sleep. The Pulmonary and Sleep Center of the Valley sites in Weslaco and McAllen can offer accurate diagnosis and effective treatment(s) of your sleep-associated bruxism.