One of the speakers at the Seattle Study Club meeting was Dr. Jeffrey Rouse, a prosthodontist from San Antonio. Dr Rouse has done a good deal or research on what he calls the bruxism triad. Bruxism is an abnormal activity that may include clenching, grinding, bracing, or gnashing of teeth. He differentiates sleep bruxers from stress related bruxers though stress realted bruxism can occur at night. He feels that sleep bruxers may damage teeth just as stress bruxers, but in addition may be more prone to sleep disorders, apnea, and gastric reflux. One reason we may brux would be to protect and improve the airway. When obstruction of the airway occurs, the subject may clench teeth as an unconscious way to relieve the airway. In one study it was found that 99% of all bruxism episodes were associated with a change in respiration. While no direct correlation has been proven, 68 to 76% of patients with sleep disturbance and sleep apnea had significant gastric reflux issues that may trigger bruxism. These conditions can create significant oral health problems as well as significant systemic health issues. In the next Blog I will review some screening methods you can employ to see if an evaluation is in order for you or a family member.