About Gerard J. Meskill, M.D.

Dr. Meskill is a board-certified neurologist and sleep disorders specialist. He completed his sleep fellowship training at Stanford University, the world's first clinical sleep disorders center. He completed residency training in neurology at the Hofstra North Shore-Long Island Jewish School of Medicine in New York City.

Nocturnal teeth grinding/clenching (“bruxism”) may indicate a sleeping disorder

Teeth clenching and/or grinding during sleep (a phenomenon known as “bruxism”) is a common problem. Some people are aware they do this because they wake up with headaches, jaw pain, lock jaw, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain. Others know about it because their bed partners hear them making grinding noises with their teeth during the night. Still others discover it because their dentists (or sleep doctors) note it. The common treatment for this in dental medicine is to wear a bite guard. These dental devices create a buffer zone between the upper and lower teeth to protect against enamel wear and reduce the strain on the TMJ.

Unfortunately, bite guards do not treat the underlying condition. Traditionally, patients have been told their bruxism is a byproduct of stress, a response mechanism to waking during the night, or that the cause is unknown. As I wrote in 2013 for the Huffington Post, we now understand the reason why many patients suffer from this condition: it is due to changes in airflow during sleep.

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What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

As the first clinical post for this new blog, I thought I would start with the basics: what is “Obstructive Sleep Apnea” (OSA)? The answer is simple, but it’s also complicated.

In brief, OSA is a common medical condition (one study found that as many as 24% of adult men and 9% of adult women have it) that occurs during sleep where there are recurrent disruptions in sleep due to partial (“hypopnea”) or complete (“apnea”) obstructions of the upper airway. Continue reading