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Nocturnal Teeth Grinding Linked to Sleep Apnea

Tuesday November 3, 2009
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There is a high prevalence of nocturnal teeth grinding, or bruxism, in patients with obstructive sleep apnea, particularly in Caucasians, according to a new study. Research presented at CHEST 2009, the 75th annual international scientific assembly of the American College of Chest Physicians, found that nearly one-quarter of patients with OSA suffer from nighttime teeth grinding; this seems to be more prevalent in men and in Caucasians compared with other ethnic groups.

It is estimated that 8% of the U.S. population suffers from bruxism, a condition frequently associated with preexisting dental or jaw disorders, as well as stress, researchers said. “The relationship between obstructive sleep apnea and sleep bruxism is usually related to an arousal response. The ending of an apneic event may be accompanied by a number of mouth phenomena, such as snoring, gasps, mumbles, and teeth grinding,” said Shyam Subramanian, MD, FCCP, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, in a news release.

Other factors that might help explain the relationship between sleep apnea and teeth grinding include anxiety and caffeine use, since disturbed sleep can cause anxiety and daytime sleepiness, researchers noted.

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