Tooth Grinding/TMJ/Sleep Apnea


Tooth Grinding

Night time tooth grinding is a sleep disorder also known as “sleep bruxism.” Adults that grind their teeth at night may awake with headaches, sore jaw joints, sore jaw muscles or chipped and worn teeth. Occasionally there are no symptoms but the noise of your teeth grinding disrupts your sleep as well as the sleep of family members. Night time tooth grinding that is left untreated may cause permanent damage to your jaw joint and teeth. Besides breaking and wearing down teeth, grinding irritates the nerves in your teeth and can cause hot, cold and chewing pain in your teeth themselves. Tooth grinding may also lead to chronic headaches and chewing muscle sensitivity during the day. Many times protecting your teeth and jaw joint by having a custom night guard made provides a welcomed solution for sleep bruxism.


TMJ Treatments

TMJ stands for temporal-mandibular joint. Temporal, as in temple area of skull; mandibular as in mandible, or lower jaw; joint as in it’s where the head and jaw meet. Problems in this joint may be caused by a misalignment of the teeth, trauma, or excess muscle tension. Aside from the two bones that meet there, cartilage buffers them and five muscles are involved in the area. If something goes wrong a good deal of trouble can result.


Problems in this area can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Earaches
  • Trouble/soreness in opening and closing the mouth
  • Clicking or popping of the jaw
  • Pain in the jaw muscles
  • Soreness in the area, sometimes extending to the face. Dental treatments for the condition can include replacing missing teeth, moving teeth, adjusting the bite, filling gaps between teeth, etc.


There is no one solution that is right for all cases. Many times a plastic mouthpiece is used to prevent clenching or grinding that is contributing to the problem.


Sleep Medicine – CPAP – Oral Appliance

Obstructive Sleep Apnea or OSA is a condition that involves complete airway blockage for periods of 10 seconds or longer repeatedly during a sleep session and is associated with serious adverse health consequences. During an apnea episode the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat; these are associated with drops of oxygen level, arousal and fragmented sleep. Associated symptoms may include snoring, unrefreshing sleep, excessive daytime sleepiness, nocturnal snorting, choking or gasping for air, fatigue, morning headaches, cognitive impairment, irritability and depression.


In addition to excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep apnea patients are much more likely to suffer from heart problems (heart attack, congestive heart failure, and hypertension), strokes, as well as having a higher incidence of driving related accidents (patients often report falling asleep while driving).
Accurate diagnosis is based on medical history, physical exam and the results of a full night polysomnography (sleep study), which is conducted at a sleep laboratory. Dr. Buttross can recommend a reputable sleep medicine physician and facility.


CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) appliance is the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment. However, for some patients a custom sleep guard may be an option.

Dr. Mylene Buttross Professional Credentials

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