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Sleep Apnea May Sabotage Your Dental Implants

Spanish researchers have found that obstructive sleep apnea increases the risk of implant complications in patients with dental implants. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, causes patients to stop breathing during sleep. In some patients, these episodes may occur just a few times throughout the night, but many individuals experience sleep interruptions of 30 or more times per hour.

OSA is also responsible for the development of bruxism, or tooth grinding, in patients while they sleep. This OSA-induced tooth grinding has a negative impact on dental implants and prosthetic restorations, according to the study.

The study of 67 participants showed that sixteen members of the group had complications with their dental implant. Eighty-one percent of the group with complications had been diagnosed with OSA. Researchers found issues that included fractures and cracks in the implant and fractures of the implant screw. Other complications included loosening of the implants and decementation of other dental prosthetics, like bridges and crowns. These complications occurred because many individuals with OSA grind their teeth during the night.

“Tooth grinding exerts an extreme amount of pressure on the teeth, as well as implants and restorations,” Dr. Stefania Caracioni, D.D.S, L.V.I.F., said.

Caracioni is a dentist who uses dental orthotics to treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea in the Topeka, Kansas, area.

The study found that these complications developed on average six years after the implant or prosthetic was placed.

“The pressure caused by tooth grinding causes wear and tear on both implants and teeth over time, leaving patients at risk for serious damage,” Caracioni said.

Not only does OSA negatively impact dental implants and prosthetic restorations, it has related to dental health issues like dry mouth, gum disease and increased risk of tooth decay.

OSA doesn’t just cause oral health complications for sufferers. Most OSA patients suffer from extreme fatigue, weight gain and frequent headaches. OSA has also been linked to high blood pressure, liver disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome, a condition that increases the risk of heart disease and stroke in individuals.

“Obstructive sleep apnea can be life-threatening if left untreated,” Caracioni said.

OSA occurs when an individual’s airway becomes blocked because the muscles of the throat relax and collapse. When the airway becomes blocked, the patient wakes up choking or gasping. Signs of obstructive sleep apnea include choking or gasping during sleep, snoring, extreme fatigue and not feeling refreshed after a night of sleep, dry mouth and moodiness.

A regular treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is the continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, machine. The machine forces the airway open by providing a continuous jet of pressure into the airway delivered by a mask that fits over the patient’s nose. Many OSA sufferers state that the CPAP machine is bulky and loud, and keeps them awake.

“Many patients find that they do not get any more rest with the CPAP machine than they did before using the device,” Caracioni said.

Surgical removal of the adenoids and tonsils is also a treatment for patients with OSA. This is not a guaranteed fix for OSA and runs the risk of complications like infection.

Many of Caracioni’s sleep apnea patients have exhausted their options with other treatments and seek relief in her office. Caracioni uses a plastic dental orthotic device to treat the condition.

“In many individuals, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the jaw being positioned too far back,” Caracioni said.

When the jaw is too far back, the tongue is too far back. When the patient is relaxed during sleep, the tongue falls back and blocks the airway.

Dental orthotics reposition the jaw and tongue to the correct position, keeping the airway open and allowing the patient to breath properly.

“When the patient can breathe, they can sleep without interruption and not have to worry about causing damage to their teeth during the night,” Caracioni said.

Sources:

Sleep Review. “Obstructive Sleep Apnea Causes Complications in Dental Implants.” 21 March 2017