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Sleep Apnea and Related Jaw Problems

Sleep apnea is a condition where your throat muscles relax during sleep, blocking your airway and interrupting your sleep. Almost 25% of the people who have sleep apnea also grind their teeth during the night. Teeth grinding can result in tooth decay, worn down teeth, and even broken teeth if left untreated.


Things you or someone close to you might notice if you have sleep apnea:

  • Interrupted sleep
  • Stopped breathing while sleeping
  • Waking up with a headache
  • Waking up with tired, tight jaw muscles
  • Learning or memory difficulties
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Falling asleep during the day
  • Teeth grinding sounds
  • Loud snoring
  • Irritability
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Heartburn or GERD
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Sensitive teeth


Your children may have different signs and symptoms if they have sleep apnea:

  • ADHD
  • Developmental delays
  • Earaches
  • Nightmares or night tremors
  • Grinding sounds
  • Poor school performance
  • Headaches
  • Bedwetting
  • Snoring


Your Dentist may notice or remark on:

  • Specific wear patterns on your teeth, especially front teeth
  • Scalloped edges on your tongue
  • Large tonsils
  • Extra bone growth (called tori)
  • Signs of mouth breathing


Often managing your sleep apnea will also help with the teeth grinding.  How can you manage sleep apnea? Losing weight and quitting smoking can help. Treating any nasal allergies also helps. Your dentist may recommend a splint or guard to help position your jaw and to help prevent grinding from damaging your teeth. If your sleep apnea is moderate or severe, you might need to see a physician for a CPAP machine which uses air pressure to keep your air passages open while you sleep.


Whether you have one or both conditions, working with your dentist and doctor can help keep your smile healthy.

You can learn more at these links!:

Snoring & Sleep Apnea


Tooth Wear

Cracked Teeth

Sleep Apnea & Behavior Problems in Children


Note: This advice is not intended to replace the clinical judgement of your healthcare professionals.


Dr. Jennifer Robb is a general dentist located at 1320 Cooper Foster Park Rd., Lorain, OH 44053. Call 440-960-1940 to join our office.