Are gum disease and sleep apnea related?
Are gum disease and sleep apnea related? – sleep dentistry near Seattle
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is a common oral health issue that is associated with a variety of serious, even life-threatening, health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is also quite common, and is also associated with many different serious health conditions. Is there a relationship between these two conditions?
There is a relationship between gum disease and obstructive sleep apnea
Scientific research has indicated that there is an association between periodontitis and OSA. One study of sleep apnea patients found that they were more likely to have moderate or severe periodontitis on examination by a dentist. Another study discovered that 60% of those with OSA also had periodontitis. Although there are quite a few studies confirming an association between sleep apnea and periodontal disease, this is an area that is just beginning to be studied. Further scientific research will help to elucidate the nature of the relationship between these two conditions.
How is gum disease related to sleep apnea?
Scientists are still not sure of the exact nature of the relationship between the two conditions. From the available studies, it cannot yet be definitively concluded whether sleep apnea increases the risk of gum disease, gum disease increases the risk of sleep apnea, or some other factor increases the risk of both. However, scientists and dentists have developed a hypothesis about why the two conditions seem to be related.
People with sleep apnea tend to breathe through the mouth rather than through the nose. Breathing through the mouth causes the mouth to become more dried out. (Everyone’s production of saliva is decreased at night. However, breathing through the mouth causes the saliva to disappear more quickly.) Because saliva inhibits the growth of bacteria, drying out the saliva allows bacteria to grow more easily, unchecked by saliva. Many scientists believe that this is why sleep apnea increases the risk of periodontal disease.
A sleep dentist can help with both conditions
This research indicates that the involvement of a dentist in treatment is important for all sleep apnea patients. They should visit the dentist at least once every six months to be checked for gum disease. A patient with periodontal disease may require extra thorough professional cleanings, and sometimes other treatments, to prevent tissue damage and tooth loss.
In addition, it would be valuable for patients who have gum disease to be screened for sleep apnea (for example, using this validated questionnaire). If the questionnaire indicates possible sleep apnea, then the patient should have a sleep study. While this has traditionally been done in a laboratory, newer home sleep studies have made the process far more convenient and less expensive.
Treatment for sleep apnea is very important to protect the long-term health of the patient. A CPAP, which is a machine that blows air into your face at night to help keep your airway open, can be effective, but many patients don’t tolerate this treatment and stop using the machine. Oral devices are a well-tolerated treatment for sleep apnea that is effective for many patients.
Sleep dentistry near Seattle
As a sleep dentist, Dr. Mulliken specializes in oral device treatment for sleep apnea. He is also an excellent general dentist, with years of experience in treating common problems like gum disease. In some cases, patients with advanced gum disease have avoided the dentist for years because of dental phobia (anxiety or fear about visiting the dentist). These patients may benefit from sedation dentistry, which Dr. Mulliken offers to his patients.
If you have sleep apnea or gum disease, or suspect that you may have one of these conditions, he is qualified to evaluate and treat both of these issues. If you’re looking for someone who practices sleep dentistry near Seattle, you’ve found a highly trained professional in Dr. Mulliken. To schedule your appointment with Dr. Mulliken, please contact our office.