Sleep apnea may cause complications with dental implants

Sleep apnea may cause complications with dental implants

Dental implants Seattle

For those who are missing one or more teeth, dental implants are the clear treatment of choice. They’re the most functional, comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing way to replace a missing tooth. However, for those with sleep apnea who also have dental implants, the implants could be at risk.

Study shows patients with sleep apnea are at risk for damage to dental implants

A recently published study published showed that patients with sleep apnea are at a relatively high risk for damage to their dental implants. Some of the complications noted included fracture of the porcelain of the restoration, fracture of the metal of the implant, and loosening of the implant in the jaw.

Why did sleep apnea increase the risk of these problems? The researchers believe that it’s due to pressure placed on the dental implants by bruxism.

Dental implants are damaged by bruxism (teeth grinding)

Obstructive sleep apnea is linked to bruxism (grinding and clenching the teeth at night). This is a reflex that the body uses to help keep the airway open. When grinding or clenching the teeth, the lower jaw is prevented from falling backward into the airway. Because of this, many people with sleep apnea grind or clench the teeth at night. In fact, some experts suggest that all patients with bruxism should be evaluated for sleep apnea.

Grinding of teeth can cause damage to the natural teeth. The enamel may be worn down, and teeth may even be cracked by the pressure of the grinding. Additionally, grinding puts pressure on any restorations that the patient may have, including dental implants. The crown on top of the implant is made of porcelain, which may crack. The implant post itself is also at risk of cracking or being dislodged because of the pressure. Although dental implants are extremely secure in the jaw bone once the process of osseointegration (fusing with the jaw bone) has occurred, pressure on the implants can cause them to become dislodged.

How can you protect your dental implants?

A very common treatment for bruxism is a night guard. This simple piece of plastic fits between the teeth and helps to protect them from damage. However, for those who have sleep apnea, this can actually make things worse, as we’ve explored in a previous blog post. By reducing bruxism without addressing sleep apnea, this may make the airway more likely to collapse at night, worsening the symptoms of sleep apnea.

For those who have both sleep apnea and bruxism, it’s preferable to treat the sleep apnea rather than focus on the bruxism alone. An oral device will both address sleep apnea and also prevent grinding and clenching of teeth. This is a simple device, which may work in one of several ways to help keep the airway open. It commonly holds the lower jaw forward, or prevents the tongue from falling into the airway. (A CPAP machine may also be used to address sleep apnea, for those who are willing to tolerate it.)

An oral device can protect your dental implants Seattle

If you grind your teeth at night, then you should be screened for sleep apnea. Some patients are told by a spouse or other bed partner that they grind their teeth at night, while others figure it out because they have soreness or stiffness in the jaw when they wake up. Treating sleep apnea will have wide-ranging health benefits, and will also help to protect both your natural teeth and any implants or other restorations that you may have. This is why treating sleep apnea is one of the best health investments that you can make.

Many sleep apnea patients prefer oral device treatment for its superior comfort and convenience. Only a dentist can fit you for a sleep apnea oral device, and the best choice is a dentist who is an expert in this specialty. Not only is Dr. Mulliken an expert in sleep dentistry, but he is also an accomplished and beloved general dentist who can fulfill all of your oral health needs, such as placing or repairing restorations. To schedule your appointment at Mill Creek Sleep Dentistry, please contact our office.

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