Have you wondered why I ask you about grinding your teeth and whether you snore or not? As odd as it may seem, many times these two things go together. Tooth grinding, bruxing as it is called in the trade, rapidly wears down teeth. It greatly increases the risk of breaking teeth, loosening teeth, making gum problems worse, and creating or exacerbating jaw problems. When your teeth are examined, we look for suspicious wear patterns and crack lines in your teeth. Your teeth are checked to see if they are mobile, if they wiggle. This grinding may also cause strange looking notches to form at the gumline of your teeth. These are called abfractions. None of these are any good for you.
What about snoring, you ask? Well, many times people who snore also grind their teeth. You may recall that at your visit with us I had you stick out your tongue and say “AHHH”. In addition to my oral cancer exam, I was also looking to see how far to the back of your throat I can see. Many times when doing this the tongue tends to block the airway. Not a good thing. This makes breathing difficult. Also, not a good thing. This may lead to snoring among other things. Oh, there are MANY more pieces to this puzzle.
Many of you have had to listen to me talk your ears off about sleep problems and the possibility of sleep disorders. How’s this affect my teeth, you may ask? Remember that I wrote that many times bruxing and snoring seem to go together? Here it comes… If snoring is somehow related to grinding and you are wearing down or busting your teeth, then wouldn’t it make sense to try to do something to correct all of this? After all, who wants to have their mouth numbed and teeth drilled upon? Not me, that’s for sure.
Controlling this may be a two pronged attack. First, we will deal with the teeth. Commonly, a custom bite guard is made. This will not necessarily stop the grinding, but it can stop the damage. That is just as good as stopping the grinding. Next, we will try to do something about the snoring.
Snoring may be one symptom of a sleep disorder. In this case I am thinking Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Obstructive because something is blocking your airway (think your tongue). Sleep because this occurs when you are supposed to be sleeping. Apnea, as to stop breathing. If this is suspected, we will make a referral for a sleep study.
What’s the dentist care about me snoring or not, you might ask? Lemme tell you. Untreated OSA is a BIG DEAL. This can lead to a decrease in the quality and quantity of your life, that’s all. It is associated with an increased risk for diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more. Yeah, you will also ruin all of your teeth and that beautiful dental work. You want that? I didn’t think so. You may live longer as your bed buddy won’t strangle you with a pillow to stop the snoring. Your partner will appreciate the peace and quiet of you not snoring and not grinding.
So, when we are talking about clenching, grinding, and snoring and then recommending treatment for these afflictions, it is really for you own good. We don’t want you to croak from something that maybe could have been delayed or prevented. If you did, then you and I couldn’t kibbitz at your dental appointments. Then I would be mad.
Stay healthy, wash your paws, wear your mask, and try to stay sane,