Teeth grinding – known as bruxism – affects up to ten per cent of the UK population. But its symptoms have a range of triggers.
The condition involves grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw that causes tooth wear and breakage, according to The Bruxism Association.
Drinking caffeinated drinks, such as soda, high energy drinks, tea and coffee (six or more cups a day) increases the risks of bruxing. Caffeine has a half-life of six hours after it has been consumed. Caffeine is a stimulant that can promote muscle activity and cause frequent waking periods at night.
coffee dependence and bruxism as indicators for sleep apnea
- Did you know that the grinding of the teeth can be used as an indicator for sleep apnea. Brain scans of people with sleep apnea indicate that grinding the teeth is associated with the end of the pause in breathing, meaning that grinding is the thing we do when we sleep in order to restore the airway and breathe again after it has collapsed or has been obstructed, pausing our breathing.
- Did you know that coffee dependence can signal adrenal fatigue. If you depend on coffee to get the energy and focus you need to make it through the day, this could be a sign that your adrenal gland is fatigued. In people with sleep apnea, the adrenal gland is overworked from producing the adrenaline needed — the fight and will to survive — each night during episodes of paused breathing due to a collapsed airway.
And so the vicious cycle begins. You’re grinding your teeth at night to reopen a collapsing airway and then you wake up in the morning without having gotten the restorative benefits of deep sleep, so you need coffee to feel more awake and alert.
The caffeine fires up the muscles, which makes you a better grinder and causes further damage to your teeth.
If you’re grinding your teeth and are a big coffee drinker, maybe you should reconsider your daily coffee fix. Why are you drinking it? Because it’s a pleasurable morning drink? Or is a stimulant you depend on to help you get through the day?
If the latter, talk to your dentist and ask about whether you grind or clench your teeth and, if so, request a sleep study from your primary care physician. To grinding is diagnosed, your dentist can prescribe a night guard such as the F.O.S. splint – a proven solution for night time clenching and grinding.