How Oral Appliances Treat Bruxism
These devices not only treat sleep apnea, they also cure grinding. Grinding is the instinctual response by the body when you stop breathing at night.
The back and forth motion of grinding is an effective way of reopening a collapsed airway. Even though grinding is what saves us, it comes at a cost. Not only does grinding slowly destroy your teeth, but if you’re grinding, you’re being aroused out of deep sleep because you can’t breathe. Therefore, you treat the root cause — the sleep apnea — and you take away the need for the body to grind the teeth.
Many of the patients I’ve treated with oral appliance therapy are shocked when they stop grinding and clenching. They suffered from headaches, neck aches, TMD symptoms, and jaw popping because they were always told that they would grind due to stress — not because of their small airway.
As a side note: if you grind your teeth, your dentist has likely prescribed a night guard for you to protect the teeth. I no longer will make night guards without first ruling out sleep apnea, since it’s always better to treat the root cause of an ailment. Not only this, but a night guard can make grinding worse by further obstructing the airway, leading to more grinding and worse sleep quality.