9th April 2023

What is the link between bruxism and sleep apnea?

Last Modified: May 4, 2023

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder in which a person's breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. It occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, leading to interrupted breathing and a drop in blood oxygen levels. Two main types of sleep apnea usually occur:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) - occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open,  interrupting normal breathing.  This is the most common type of sleep apnea.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA) - occurs when the brain fails to signal the muscles to breathe, resulting in periods of breathing stopping.

Sleep apnea can affect people of all ages, but it is more common in middle-aged and older adults. Risk factors for sleep apnea include obesity,


alcohol use, and a family history of the condition.

Common symptoms include loud snoring, daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and irritability. If left untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a range of health issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.

Is teeth grinding a sign of sleep apnea?

A woman weighing up risks

Teeth grinding (bruxism) can be a sign of sleep apnea. Research has shown that people with sleep apnea are more likely to grind their teeth during sleep! This is because sleep apnea can cause disruptions in sleep, leading to increased muscle tension, stress, and anxiety and as a result increased teeth grinding. Additionally, sleep apnea can cause the airway to narrow, leading to reduced oxygen levels in the body. Reduced oxygen can then trigger teeth grinding.

The impact of sleep apnea on sleep quality and bruxism?

Here are some ways in which sleep apnea can affect sleep quality and bruxism:

  • Disruptions to sleep: Sleep apnea can cause disruptions to sleep by interrupting breathing and leading to frequent awakenings during the night. This can lead to decreased sleep quality, daytime sleepiness, and other negative effects on health.
  • Increased muscle tension: Sleep apnea can cause increased muscle tension, including in the jaw muscles. This can contribute to bruxism and lead to jaw pain and headaches.
  • Reduced oxygen levels - a reduction in blood oxygen levels, which can trigger teeth grinding and clenching during sleep.
  • Negative impact on health - Sleep apnea is linked to high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and diabetes. These health issues can further impact sleep quality and exacerbate bruxism.
  • Increased risk of tooth damage - Teeth grinding from sleep apnea can cause tooth damage, such as chipping, cracking, and wearing down of the teeth.
  • Reduced effectiveness of bruxism treatments - Treatment of bruxism may be less effective if sleep apnea is not addressed, as the underlying cause of the bruxism may still be present.

This article was read and reviewed by the face of DR Aesthetica himself - DR Baldeep Farmah.

How do bruxism and sleep apnea impact relationships and intimacy?

Here are some ways in which these sleep disorders can affect personal relationships:

  • Loud snoring - can be disruptive to a partner's sleep, causing them to feel fatigued and irritable during the day. This can lead to tension and arguments within the relationship.
  • Physical discomfort - bruxism can cause jaw pain, headaches, and neck pain, which can make it uncomfortable to engage in physical intimacy. Also sleep apnea can cause fatigue and irritability, which can make it difficult to be affectionate.
  • Changes in mood and behavior - such as increased irritability and decreased libido. This can strain relationships and decrease intimacy.
  • Embarrassment and shame: People with bruxism or sleep apnea may feel embarrassed or ashamed about their condition, which can lead to a reluctance to discuss it with their partner. This can create feelings of distance and lack of intimacy in the relationship.
  • Social isolation: People with sleep disorders may avoid social situations or events that need them to stay up late or be active. This leads to social isolation and a lack of opportunities for social connection with their partner.

It is essential for couples to communicate with each other about any of these issues they are facing.

A couple struggling with communication

The benefits of a good night's sleep?

Getting a good night's sleep is a must for health and well-being. I'm sure we all know this and have been told this, but what are the specific benefits:

  • Improved mood - Getting enough sleep can improve mood, reducing the risk of depression and anxiety. We all experience that groggy feeling after a poor night's rest!
  • Better cognitive function - a good night's sleep can improve memory, concentration, and decision-making.
  • Increased physical performance - Sleep aids recovery, so getting enough sleep can improve performance.
  • Reduced risk of disease - sleep deprivation can cause an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.
  • Improved immune function - Sleep is essential for a healthy immune system, helping the body to fight off infections and illness.

Treatments for your bruxism?

Don’t suffer in silence, we're here to help you! You can view a list of potential treatments for bruxism here

However do you Want a treatment that:

  • that lasts approximately 6 months?
  • Only requires 24 hours of downtime
  • Is so painless that it requires no anaesthetic
  • displays results by 4 weeks

Then a Botox treatment may be perfect for you! View more information on a Botox treatment here:

Post Reviewed by: Dr Baldeep Farmah
Medically Reviewed on: 9th April 2023
Dr Baldeep Farmah is the Medical Director and lead Doctor of Dr Aesthetica, a Medical Aesthetic Clinic.

"We want to empower everyone who walks through our clinic doors, to be able to look in the mirror and see a happier, brighter version of themselves."

For everyone that walks through our clinic doors, you may think you are alone, but you are not. Our patients all have a different story to tell but all come from a similar place.
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