Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person stops breathing for a few seconds at a time repeatedly during sleep because the opening to the airway is briefly obstructed. Although it may not be readily apparent, this condition may actually increase the likelihood that you’ll develop periodontal disease, according to some recent scientific research.
Studies have found that patients who have sleep apnea are 2-4 times more likely to develop periodontal disease than people who do not have this condition. The mechanism is unclear, although it may be related to decreased saliva production in sleep apnea patients. When there is inadequate saliva, gum disease-causing oral bacteria have the opportunity to proliferate. Other characteristics, such as age and lifestyle may also influence this risk, and an oral surgeon will take these into consideration in developing your treatment plan.
Furthermore, obstructive sleep apnea poses health risks in addition to periodontal disease. This condition is associated with a number of serious issues, including high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. People who have sleep apnea may even have an increased risk of sudden death. Getting effective treatment for your obstructive sleep apnea will benefit your general wellbeing in addition to your smile.
If you become aware that you are exhibiting symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, like loud snoring or daytime drowsiness, you should complete a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis. Then you can consult with an oral surgeon to explore the treatment option that is most suitable for your unique case. You may not necessarily need surgery. For example, wearing a specially designed oral appliance may eliminate your sleep apnea symptoms.
In cases when surgery is indicated to address sleep apnea, the procedure may involve removing some excess tissue at the back of the throat that is contributing to the airway obstruction. Surgery may also reposition a patient’s jaw to move it forward and away from the airway opening. Your surgeon can give you more guidance about the procedure that will help you.
Sleep apnea is associated with a number of negative consequences for a patient’s health, including periodontal disease. To reduce your risks of these poor outcomes, consult with one of our specialists about treatment if you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea. Contact us at one of our conveniently located offices today!