How Sleep Disorders Can Be Tied to Dental Health
2015 by DentalSpots

While patients may not realize it, good dental health is tied in many ways to healthy sleep patterns and overall health.  The jaw is connected to the ear, which can mean that the pain caused by a dental disorder can spread from the jaw up to the ear and facial muscles. That is why it is important as a dental care provider to ask your patients about how well they are sleeping, if they have noticed any disruption to sleeping patterns or if they are getting less restful sleep than before. Difficulty with sleep can be caused by a dental disorder and with proper treatment, the issue can be solved and the patient’s sleep can be restful once again. Here are some common dental causes of sleep disruption to look for when patients come in for a dental checkup or appointment.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of Americans, who are able to get to sleep but do not get the rest they need. This is because sleep apnea causes periods during sleep of up to ten seconds during which the person does not breathe. The patient may find that they wake up suddenly gasping for air, or suffer from dry mouth which causes them to wake up thirsty in the night. There are a variety of treatments for sleep apnea depending on the individual patient and symptoms. For some patients, a change in diet, weight loss or adjustment to sleeping habits and position can provide relief from sleep apnea. Other patients find that wearing a sleeping appliance or machine is the best way to treat sleep apnea.


Tooth grinding, also called bruxism, can cause damage to the surface of the teeth, pain in the facial muscles and disruption to your sleeping patterns. Like patients who suffer from TMJ disorder, patients who grind their teeth can also have pain in the ears and ear joints. Tooth grinding and clenching while you sleep can result in severe damage due to the repeated impact of the teeth rubbing together.  While there is no one isolated cause for tooth grinding, experts think it is tied to stress, anxiety and fatigue. With treatment, which may include a mouth appliance or therapy for stress and anxiety issues, the habit can be stopped and pain can be minimized.

General Dental Pain

Not all loss of sleep is caused by a major dental disorder. In some cases, a standard dental issue can cause patients to lose sleep. If a patient has a cavity, rotting tooth or gum disease, you may experience dental pain throughout the day which gets worse at night and disrupts the ability to sleep. These problems are easy to fix with proper dental care and regular checkups from a dentist. Unfortunately, many people wait until the pain is too much to bear to finally make a dental appointment. This can result in more extensive treatment being required for the same simple issue.

If a patient complains of lost sleep due to tooth pain, one of these issues may be the culprit. Keep an eye out for any of the symptoms of these issues to get to the bottom of the problem.

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