Should you wear your dentures while you sleep?

Should you wear your dentures while you sleep? – dentures Mill Creek

As the population ages, dentists are seeing more and more older patients – in their 70s, 80s, or even beyond. Unfortunately, older patients have a higher risk of being edentulous. This is a word describing someone who is missing all of their teeth. Edentulous patients may choose dentures supported by implants (“All-on-4”), or they may prefer removable dentures.

Those who choose removable dentures often opt to leave them out at night. Both patients and dentists commonly believe that this is a good choice, because the patient is not eating or speaking at night and therefore doesn’t require dentures. Many also recommend leaving dentures out at night to decrease the number of bacteria in the mouth and respiratory tract. However, an intriguing study may indicate that leaving your dentures out at night may actually harm your health. Going without dentures has been found to worsen sleep apnea symptoms for many patients.

Wearing dentures during sleep may reduce the number of apneic episodes

This intriguing study demonstrated that, in many edentulous patients, wearing their dentures at night was associated with a lower apnea-hypopnea index (AHI). This is a measure of the severity of sleep apnea. The majority of edentulous sleep apnea patients showed a significant decrease in the AHI when they wore their dentures while sleeping, compared to the AHI when not wearing dentures.

It’s very important to recognize that for a significant minority of patients, sleep apnea was actually worse while wearing their dentures, with a higher AHI. Although wearing dentures at night is beneficial for most patients, a dentist should monitor the patient’s response to this treatment. In some patients, it may be better to leave the dentures out.

How do dentures help with sleep apnea?

Wearing dentures at night helps to maintain an open airway. The musculature and other structures of the mouth and throat change dramatically as a result of the loss of the teeth, and these changes can make it more likely that the patient will develop trouble breathing while sleeping. The unsupported soft tissues tend to collapse into the airway space. Because the dentures provide a rigid structure to the mouth, they may help to maintain the airway in patients who no longer have teeth to perform this function.

Edentulous patients with sleep apnea may wish to wear an oral device, but might have discovered that these devices are generally designed for those who still have all or most of their teeth (or dental implants in place of them). By wearing their dentures at night, patients may be able to use a sleep apnea oral device to treat their sleep apnea. Although wearing dentures itself may help to improve sleep apnea, there are oral devices that are designed to work along with dentures in order to keep the airway more open at night. A specialized sleep apnea dentist can advise you about oral devices that work with dentures.

Consult a sleep apnea dentist if you have dentures Mill Creek

If you wear dentures, it’s important to consider the possibility that you might have sleep apnea. You can take the simple Epworth sleep test to determine whether you have symptoms that warrant further evaluation for this very common disorder. Those who feel excessively tired during the day should be evaluated with a sleep study. If you do have sleep apnea, it may be worth doing sleep studies both with and without your dentures. This will help to determine whether you’re among those who would benefit from keeping your dentures in while you sleep. (These can be home sleep studies for your convenience.)

Many patients with sleep apnea are interested in oral device treatment. This is the most comfortable and convenient way to reduce the long-term serious health effects of sleep apnea. A specialized sleep apnea dentist fits these devices. If you have dentures, you can still receive an oral device, as long as it’s properly designed and fitted. Dr. Mulliken has years of training and experience in this field, and can help you get the right oral device for you.

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