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What Sleep Apnea and Sleep Bruxism does to your Health!

Updated: May 16

How factors such as breathing, eating, hydration, and sleep can improve your health!


When we don’t have good sleep, we place our overall health at risk. Sleep-disordered breathing can be seen in 79% of adults with neuromuscular diseases and respiratory muscle weakness.


During adulthood, a manifestation of Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) can be caused by anatomical and non-anatomical factors such as:

  • The collapse of soft tissue in the throat

  • Narrow pharynx

  • Increased upper airway length

  • Tongue sliding back into the airway, because there is not enough room to accommodate it in the mouth cavity

  • The shape of the pharyngeal lumen

  • The activity of your throat muscles occurring during sleep

  • Poor tongue muscle responsiveness to negative pharyngeal pressure

  • Reduction in lung volumes during supine sleep

  • Compromised Physiological adaptation to sleep



Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

(OSA) is a nighttime disorder characterized by repeated airway collapse that results in hypoxemia and frequent arousal from sleep. One’s bed partner may report loud snoring, gasping, choking, snorting, or interruptions in breathing while sleeping. Sleep-related bruxism involves repetitive jaw-muscle activity during sleep, often characterized by teeth grinding or clenching.


Sleep Bruxism (SB)

(SB) consists of involuntary episodic and repetitive jaw muscle activity characterized by occasional tooth grinding or jaw clenching during sleep. Prevalence decreases from 20% to 14% in childhood to 8% to 3% in adulthood. Bruxism during sleep is very different from bruxism while awake. Sleep bruxism is not under a person’s conscious control and usually occurs throughout the night during periods of arousal as a person goes from a deeper stage of sleep to a lighter stage of sleep. This pattern may be repeated many times during the night.


Extreme forces can be generated by the jaws during clenching or grinding during sleep which can result in the overuse of the jaw muscles - resulting in morning jaw pain or fatigue and jaw dysfunction. Sleep bruxism is not effectively treated by behavior modification or awareness and requires a different therapeutic approach. It also may be associated with a sleep disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep bruxism may be a contributing factor to sleep apnea. The underlying mechanism by which this may occur has to do with signals from the nervous system that affect heart rate, muscles around the jaw, and the nasal passages. Signals that initiate teeth grinding may also increase congestion and airway restriction, creating disordered breathing.


Some sleeping problems tend to go unnoticed because a person may not snore or have never had any tell them they snore; however, if you are waking up restless no matter how many hours of sleep and demonstrate signs of bruxism you may have sleep-disordered breathing and should consult with a professional.

The need for new or complementary therapeutic modalities for OSA has been pointed out and Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) with a specialization in airway muscle weakness, was proposed with success for reducing OSA severity, sleep bruxism, and other associated problems in adults. The main reason for this is there is a high percentage of patients who do not respond satisfactorily to CPAP or who want to avoid having to go on CPAP. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6132228/


The goal of the therapy is to induce changes in weak and dysfunctional upper airway muscles. The potential of OMT has also been investigated to promote :

  • reduction of snoring

  • improvement of quality of life

  • adherence to the use of CPAP

  • as well as to treat residual OSA in children.


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