The interconnected relationship between Sleep Apnea, heart disease, stroke and gum disease is being cited more and more often. Treatment for Sleep Apnea and regular care of your teeth, mouth and gums are critical for overall health.
Scientific evidence and increasing peer-reviewed literature are piecing together the common links between periodontal disease (bleeding gums) and diseases of the heart and blood vessels. Bacteria found in gum disease are also routinely found in the plaques that narrow our arteries and thrombi – the clots causing strokes. The inflammation triggered by gum disease found throughout the body is one of the critical factors that start a cascade of conditions that can lead to these problems.
Diabetes is another inflammatory-producing condition that is reported to occur in up to 93% of people with gum disease. This is according to the American Academy of Oral Systemic Health, as quoted in an article on the website dentaltown, by Dr. Jamie Troop, DDS entitled Oral Systemic Health and The Big Three. Keeping excellent home care habits and maintaining regular dental visits are important in decreasing your risk for many cardiovascular diseases.
Another significant factor in “lighting” the inflammatory process is Sleep Apnea; a condition often associated with snoring (up to 70% of snorers have sleep apnea) that is characterized by repeated episodes of stopping breathing while you asleep. Gasps, waking up frequently, feeling tired despite sleeping long hours are all signs of sleep apnea. Having a bedpartner witness gasps, choking or stopping breathing are almost 100% diagnostic of apnea.
So how is this connected you ask.
The repeated oxygen drops associated with snoring and apnea trigger several inflammatory processes in the bloodstream and vessels. It also causes significant strain on the heart with each apnea or oxygen drop. This triggers bursts of inflammatory chemicals that shower the blood vessels associated with each episode, which add to the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke, and heart attack. Combine sleep apnea, or oxygen desaturations, with periodontal disease and you have significantly increased the risk of a cardiovascular event.
Sleep apnea is also directly linked to the development of “pre-diabetes” or “insulin resistance”, as is periodontal disease and diet.
Each of these three conditions can increase your risk of developing the other two. Biochemically they are intertwined like a ball of three pieces of yarn, each adding to the risk and strain on the cardiovascular system.
This Christmas and Hanukah season enjoy the traditional foods, drinks, and sweets. As part of your new year’s resolution, make it a goal to insure your gums are healthy, your diet isn’t too sugar laden, and if you or someone you know snores or has signs of apnea, get them checked for sleep apnea.
At TMJ Sleep Solutions, I work with many physicians, sleep specialists, and sleep labs to help get patients diagnosed and treated for sleep apnea. Oral appliance therapy is a growing, accepted method for treating sleep apnea. People who are intolerant of CPAP or don’t want to use it can choose Oral Appliance Therapy. As a Board eligible dentist in Dental Sleep Medicine and a TMJ expert, I help many patients breathe easy all night, even those with TMJ problems.
Contact our office today and schedule an evaluation.