The Bruxism Triad – Cary, NC
A Dangerous Combination of Conditions
Have you ever heard of the “bruxism triad?” Not many people have. Basically, it refers to three conditions that often occur simultaneously in people who frequently grind their teeth while they are asleep. Together, these conditions pose a threat to oral and overall health. On this page, we will discuss the three problems that constitute the bruxism triad and touch on how our team can help you cope with these issues.
Many people clench and grind their teeth. Some do it while they are awake, while others do it during sleep. If you fall into the latter category, you might be a sleep bruxer if you have more than four episodes of bruxing per hour and more than 25 bruxing bursts per hour, and at least one of your episodes create audible noise. Over time, bruxism can cause significant damage to the teeth. It can lead to cracks, worn enamel, and other serious dental problems.
Respiratory sleep disturbances, such as snoring and sleep apnea, often occur in people who brux at night. In fact, researchers have observed that the frequency of sleep disturbances increases with the frequency of bruxing episodes. However, the sleep disturbances might actually cause the bruxing. Respiratory problems during sleep can lead to micro-arousals, during which you may shift your jaw forward to open up your airway. In turn, that shifting of the jaw could contribute to bruxism.
Gastroesophageal reflux disorder, commonly referred to as GERD or simply acid reflux, occurs when the contents of your stomach leak into your esophagus. This can cause symptoms like heartburn and frequent throat-clearing. GERD can even allow highly corrosive stomach acid to attack your teeth, leading to significant damage. Research indicates that GERD occurs more often in people with severe obstructive sleep apnea. It is also possible that GERD triggers bruxism by lowering the mouth’s pH level.
Coping with the Bruxism Triad
The complex relationships between the conditions in the bruxism triad are not yet fully understood. However, the strong correlation between these three issues indicates that by properly addressing one, it might be possible to reduce the severity of the others.
Some patients have found relief with oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance that slightly moves the jaw forward at night helps to keep the airway open, allowing for easier breathing. The resulting reduction in sleep disturbances may lower incidences of teeth grinding. Plus, the appliance itself can place a barrier between the teeth that prevents bruxism from causing severe damage. Treating GERD with certain medications may also help to reduce bruxism episodes because it can prevent the mouth’s pH levels from reaching the point where bruxism is triggered.
Are you concerned that the bruxism triad may be affecting your oral and overall health? Dr. Koch and our team are here to help. We can repair teeth that have been damaged by bruxism and GERD, provide sleep apnea therapy with an oral appliance, and offer advice on how you can minimize the severity and frequency of your GERD episodes. Contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to serve you.