Thursday, December 31, 2009

Remember to Treat Sleep Apnea – Your Memory is at Risk

Can’t remember your best friend’s birthday? Keep forgetting the name of your kid’s teacher?

In a recent blog post for Psychology Today, Dr. Dennis Rosen discussed how sleep improves memory and why snoring should not be ignored.

Dr. Rosen explained that sleep deprivation has been shown to negatively affect both memory and learning. A recent study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine further supports this claim.

Researchers compared memory performance in 15 adults with moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) to that in 20 healthy control subjects.

Each participant took a sleep test. Those with OSA partially or completely stopped breathing almost 20 times per hour. In contrast, the control group experienced an average of 2 pauses in breath per hour.

These pauses happen when the airway collapses. They cause the body to wake up and breathe.

The researchers suspected that the OSA patients’ disrupted sleep patterns would negatively affect memory.

The study participants underwent several memory tests before and after sleeping. The tests included reproducing drawings, remembering a line-drawn path on a map, and recounting details like names and numbers.

In many of the tasks, patients with OSA scored lower than those in the control group. OSA patients had an especially hard time remembering details like names and numbers.

People with OSA also experienced lower-quality REM sleep. REM sleep is necessary for the body to heal itself and prepare for the next day.

Common signs of OSA include snoring and excessive daytime sleepiness. If you or someone you know snores, consider visiting an accredited sleep center. OSA is a serious condition that should be treated.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a safe and effective treatment option. Dentists trained in OAT can treat sleep apnea with custom-made oral appliances. These devices reposition the lower jar forward to allow better breathing during sleep.

Find-a-dentist in your area.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Preventing Childhood Obesity and Sleep Apnea

Childhood obesity has tripled over the past three decades.

In a recent Behavioral Health Central (BHC)
article, former President Clinton commented on the staggering childhood obesity rate.

“Without proper prevention and treatment of childhood obesity, our current generation could become the first in American history to live shorter lives than their parents,” he said.

One in three American children and teens are obese or overweight. Seventy percent of them have at least one risk factor for heart disease. They also have higher risk for diabetes and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

OSA is a serious condition. It decreases concentration and memory. It also contributes to weight gain, depression and daytime sleepiness.

Sleep apnea is already a major issue in today’s society.

More than 18 million Americans suffer from OSA. It can affect anyone. But people’s risk for the disease increases with weight gain.

This blog recently reported on a new study that found that obese children had a high risk of developing sleep apnea when they hit puberty.

Two percent of children have OSA. Obesity prevention helps keep sleep apnea from becoming more prevalent.

Many organizations are dedicated to raising awareness of OSA and obesity.

The AADSM is one of these organizations.

The Alliance for a Healthier Generation is another such organization. The Alliance has worked to increase healthy food options and physical activity in 6,000 schools. Find out about the Alliance.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Military Keeps Airmen Deployable Despite Sleep Apnea - Dentists Help with Treatment

An Air Force Times article reports that the Air Force is cracking down on medical waivers in response to a growing number of service members who cannot deploy.

Airmen with medical waivers will face health reviews as frequently as once a month. In the past, someone’s deployment status could go for more than a year without being updated.

So far, the stricter policy has worked. In 2006, 2.16 percent of airmen could not deploy. Today, that number is down to 0.26 percent, or roughly 760 airmen.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is one condition that restricts where airmen can deploy. But it does not prevent deployment.

Sandy conditions make it difficult to maintain breathing equipment, such as CPAP, in some parts of the world. But airmen with OSA can still deploy to other areas.

Oral appliances offer an alternative for airmen who cannot bring their CPAP machine with them on duty. Oral appliances are portable, silent and do not need electricity.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances as an alterative to CPAP.

Oral appliance therapy is indicated for mild to moderate OSA patients if they prefer it to CPAP, cannot tolerate CPAP, or are unable to use positional therapy or weight loss to control their apnea. Oral appliances (OAs) are also recommended for severe OSA patients if they cannot tolerate CPAP.

Oral appliances look like mouth guards. They are fitted by trained dentists

Read more posts about the risks of untreated sleep apnea in the military here.

Image by Mark Poblete

Monday, December 28, 2009

Getting Away from the Grind: Treating Bruxism and Sleep Apnea for a Better Night’s Rest

Some sleep disorders share common ties. Sleep apnea and bruxism are two such conditions.

Bruxism involves the grinding or clenching of teeth during sleep.

In a Chicago Tribune article, Dr. Steven Goldman explained why this condition should be treated. Grinding or clenching of the jaw can cause facial soreness, headaches, neck pain and serious damage to the gums, bones and teeth.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine estimates that eight percent of young to middle-aged adults have it.

This grinding can worsen with stress. Dr. Goldman said that an estimated 10 percent of patients grind their teeth so low that they must be reconstructed.

Many people with bruxism also suffer from sleep apnea. In November, this blog reported on a study that found that a quarter of sleep apnea patients have bruxism.

Sleep apnea occurs when the soft tissue in a person’s throat collapses during sleep. This repeated collapse prevents airflow and causes the person to awaken, increasing their health risks. Common signs of sleep apnea include daytime sleepiness and snoring.

Common signs of bruxism include a locked jaw when waking up, jaw discomfort, fatigue and pain, and damage to the teeth.

People who have sleep apnea may want to ask their dentist or physician about bruxism and vice versa.

Sleep apnea and bruxism can disrupt sleep for the people who have these conditions and for their bed partners. They can be diagnosed during an overnight sleep study.

Both sleep apnea and teeth grinding can be treated with oral appliances. Click here for a list of dentists trained in dental sleep medicine.

Read more about dental sleep medicine at the Sleep Education blog.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Happy Holidays from the AADSM

It's the most wonderful time of the year
With the kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you "Be of good cheer"
It's the most wonderful time of the year.

It's the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay, happy meetings
When friends come to call
It's the hap-happiest season of all.

- From “It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year” by Eddie Pola and George Wyle

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine wishes each of you a joyous and restful holiday season.

Check back on December 28, 2010 for the latest news in dental sleep medicine.

Image by pchow98

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Time for Santa to Get Healthy?

Chances are, Dr. Glenn Braunstein hasn’t written to Santa since he was a kid. But this year, Dr. Braunstein decided to confront old St. Nick about health in a letter to the North Pole.

Dr. Braunstein explains why Santa Clause should be more concerned about his health. Santa is, after all, a role model for millions of children worldwide.

His reasoning? Obesity increases a person’s risk for diabetes, hypertension, strokes, heart attacks, some cancers, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). So obesity is not a lifestyle example Santa should be setting.

Dr. Braunstein jokes that Mrs. Clause most likely complains about Santa’s snoring. But it’s true that many people who have OSA snore very loudly. This snoring and gasping for breath occurs because the person has trouble breathing. In fact, spouses are often the people who notice that there is a problem with their bed partner’s health.

So what can Father Christmas do for his health?

Dr. Braunstein’s gives the following advice: Even if it’s too chilly to exercise outside, especially in the North Pole, he should hit the treadmill for 30 minutes a day. And if he wants to stop getting stuck in chimneys, Santa needs to lay off the cookies and try snacking on celery or carrots.

He leaves St. Nick with this parting thought. “You really need to take stock of your life, understand your risks and agree on a lifestyle change.”

There are more than 18 million Americans who suffer from OSA. Like Santa, many of us could take this advice to ensure that we live long, healthy lives.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that people with OSA accompany weight loss with oral appliance therapy or CPAP.

View Santa’s letter at the Huffington Post.

Image by Jon Seekford

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Heart Disease and Stroke Costs on the Rise

A recent Reuters' article reported that heart disease and stroke will cost the U.S. more than 500 billion dollars in 2010 – a six percent increase from the 2009 costs.

The cost includes both health care fees and lost productivity due to death and disease. A full report on these numbers is available online through the journal Circulation.

More important than the cost, is the lives affected by these diseases. Heart disease is the top killer of men and women in the U.S. It’s unfortunate that many of these cases are preventable.

Cardiovascular disease and stroke have long since plagued the U.S. population. Sleep apnea is a major contributor to both of these problems.

Sleep apnea keeps a person from getting restorative sleep during the night. The soft tissue in their throat collapses, blocking the airway and preventing airflow. When the airflow stops, the person wakes up to breathe again. This disrupted sleep pattern contributes to many health problems.

What’s causing this rise in heart disease and stoke? Eating too much or exercising too little can lead to many of these diseases. But sleep is also critical to good health.

Many people think that they can skimp on sleep. But no matter how busy their lives are, good sleeping habits are important.

The American Heart Association hopes to reduce U.S. deaths from cardiovascular diseases and stroke by 20 percent by 2020.

Is this goal possible?

If it is, it’s critical for people to get restorative sleep. Sleep allows the body to heal itself and gather energy for the next day.

Many people do not know that they suffer from sleep apnea. If you snore loudly, feel excessively sleepy during the day or have morning headaches, consider visiting a sleep center to get tested.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Drowsy Driving Receives More Attention

Drowsy driving is a common risk of untreated sleep apnea.

Driving tired can be as serious as driving drunk, according to the Cape Code Times.

One Australian study found that being awake 17 straight hours produced impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05. After 24 hours of not sleeping, the impairment rose to .10.

In contrast, driving with a BAC of .08 is considered driving drunk.

Driving drowsy is a serious problem in today’s society.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, more than 250,000 sleep-related motor vehicle accidents occur each year.

Who are these drivers? They can be anyone, but teens and shift workers make up a high proportion.

Commercial drivers also have a high rate of drowsy driving. An estimated 28 percent of truck drivers have sleep apnea. This condition can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and dangerous driving conditions.

In 2005, the U.S. Department of Transportation issued new rules regarding sleep for commercial truck drivers. These rules say that truckers should not drive more than 11 hours in a row or work longer than 14 hours in a shift. Truckers should not drive more than 60 hours over a seven-day period or 70 hours over an eight-day period. They must rest for at least 10 hours between shifts and have a 34-hour period to recover from cumulative fatigue.

These rules are important, but sleep apnea can still affect alertness. Treating sleep apnea is one of the best ways to prevent drowsy driving. Oral appliance therapy and CPAP are two common treatments.

Read the full Cape Cod Times article online.

Learn more about drowsy driving here.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Hut Hut Hike - Steelers Take Offense Against Sleep Apnea

Shoppers got more than they bargained for this week at one Pittsburgh mall.

Several Steelers players and ESPN 1250 radio personnel were there raising awareness about sleep apnea. Watch the WTAE newscast here.

Shoppers received pre-tests and those who might have sleep apnea were encouraged to take an overnight sleep study. Sleep studies occur at sleep centers. People who are diagnosed with sleep apnea have several treatment options, including oral appliance therapy and CPAP.

An estimated 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. But 80 to 90 percent of these people do not know that they have the condition. Untreated sleep apnea increases a person’s risk for high cholesterol, heart attack, stroke and diabetes.

Steelers player Casey Hampton explained that Reggie White’s death raised many players’ awareness of sleep apnea. White was a Pro Football Hall of Fame member who suddenly died in 2004. Reports indicate that sleep apnea may have played a role in his death. After his death, NFL trainers encouraged larger players to get tested.

Many people think that sleep apnea can only affect overweight men. But this is not true. In November, The Office Blog of the AADSM reported on risk factors.

Football is not the only industry taking a serious look at sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and driving accidents. So leaders in trucking are currently considering screening all truck drivers for the condition. Read more here and here.

Image by MPR529

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Giving Attention to Childhood Attention Problems

Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a mental disorder that can cause impulsiveness, hyperactivity and inattention. It affects an estimated five to 10 percent of school-aged kids.

In an article on, Dr. Nina Shapiro discussed the possible link between ADHD and sleep apnea.

Sleep restores the mind and body. It improves memory, concentration and attention. Sleep’s healing abilities lead some people to believe that ADHD could be tied to sleep deprivation.

Many children sleep the recommended 8-9 hours per night. But if they have sleep apnea, they may not get restful sleep. Sleep apnea causes repeated arousals throughout the night, causing sleep fragmentation. Even if they don’t remember waking up, it could be damaging their health.

A 2006 study in the journal SLEEP compiled the results from 13 past studies on the topic.

The researchers found that children with ADHD had an Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) much higher than children without the condition.

AHI is an average that represents the number of complete breaks in breathing (apneas) and partial breaks in breathing (hypopneas) that occur per hour of sleep. The higher a person’s AHI is, the worse their apnea.

The children with ADHD also moved more in their sleep and had higher daytime sleepiness.

The researchers concluded that these children’s disrupted sleep may relate to their ADHD. More research on this topic is needed.

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. Read about the risks of untreated apnea here. Sleep apnea can be diagnosed at a sleep center.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Puberty Puts Teens at Higher Risk for Sleep Apnea

A study published yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found that teens’ and children’s breathing may be affected differently by obesity. The study showed that obesity increased teens’ risk for sleep apnea but did not raise younger children’s risk.

Sleep studies were given to 234 Caucasian children. Each child was between two and 18 years of age. They all had histories of snoring and were under evaluation for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Results indicated that the risk of OSA among Caucasian adolescents 12 years of age and older increased 3.5 fold with each standard-deviation increase in body mass index (BMI). But the risk of OSA did not significantly increase with increasing BMI among children younger than 11.

BMI is a measurement of your body fat based on your height and weight. Find out your BMI here.

The results surprised the authors, according to a press release. Dr. Mark Kohler said that they had not expected sleep apnea risk to vary by age.

The results suggest that development changes during puberty may cause the higher sleep apnea risk in obese teens.

Tonsil size may impact the risk of developing OSA. But obesity among snoring teens should be considered grounds for physician referral regardless of tonsil size.

The release noted that African-American children seem to have a higher risk for OSA independent of obesity.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) two percent of otherwise healthy young children have OSA.

If you are a parent, here is what you should look for. Kids with OSA often seem like they are working hard to breathe during sleep. They will snore loudly and may stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds or gasp for breath. If you notice these signs, speak with a physician.

Click here to read the AASM’s fact sheet on OSA in children

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Member Spotlight: Harold Smith presents at Appliance Therapy Practitioners Association (ATPA) Symposium

AADSM Past President Harold Smith, DDS, will join industry experts to discuss the latest trends and research in oral appliances this March.

His presentation, "An Overview of Appliance Therapy in the Treatment of OSA," will explain how different types of oral appliances treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Dentists who treat sleep apnea learn what appliances work best for certain types and levels of OSA. OSA is a serious condition. So it is important to visit a qualified dentist - click here for a list.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a growing area of dentistry. This year’s ATPA symposium will have a full day dedicated to OSA.

AADSM members Rob W. Veis, DDS, Michael S. Simmons, DMD, Ronald S. Prehn, DDS will also speak at the meeting.

Dr. Smith is currently President of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. Diplomates of the ABDSM represent the highest level of education and practice in dental sleep medicine. More than 150 Diplomates have earned this status.

From 2002 to 2004, Dr. Smith was President of the AADSM, which has grown greatly. In 2001 there were 309 members. Today, there are more than 1,760 members.

Dr. Smith is a recipient of the AADSM Distinguished Service Award and has served on the AADSM and ABDSM Board of Directors for many years. He currently consults at five sleep disorder clinics in Indianapolis, IN.

The 7th annual symposium will be held in Las Vegas, Nev. this March 11-14, 2010.

Read more at Dental Economics or the ATPA symposium Web site.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Weighing in on the Biggest Loser

The Biggest Loser” runner-up Rudy Pauls recently gave an interview to RealityWanted. He explained what inspired him to go on the show.

Pauls said that one reason he auditioned was because he realized that he needed to take control of his health. He had recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Every Season Eight contestant was tested for sleep apnea. And all 16 had the condition.

People with OSA stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes for one minute or longer. This pause in breathing can happen hundreds of times a night, often causing excessive daytime sleepiness.

Obesity can raise a person risk for sleep apnea. Once sleep apnea is present, it can be harder to lose weight because OSA often drains a person’s energy.

It is important to treat OSA. If a person does not treat their OSA, they may be at risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, diabetes, and driving accidents.

Weighing less than half his original body weight, Pauls lost 234 lbs for a second place finish! Weight loss can help treat sleep apnea. But the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that weight loss be accompanied with oral appliance therapy or CPAP.

The Sleep Education blog reported on the start of Season Eight earlier this year.

Image by jodigreen

Friday, December 11, 2009

Doctors Host Health Hotline for Sleep Disorders

Many people do not realize that they may be at risk for sleep apnea. They think that only overweight or obese people can have this condition.

But sleep-related breathing disorders can develop for many reasons. Men and Women of all ages and ethnicities can have trouble breathing while they sleep. Even children can get sleep apnea. Read about risk factors here.

That is why Utah doctor, Robert Mazzola, MD, is taking calls on sleep disorders this Saturday. He wants to dispel misperceptions about sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

He and Howard Leaman, MD will answer questions about sleep apnea from 10 a.m. to noon MST. The questions are confidential and will not be broadcast. You can call 1-800-925-8177 to ask a question.

Common signs of sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness and loud snoring. Morning headaches and frequent nighttime urination can also indicate a problem.

If you have signs of sleep apnea, it’s a good idea to get tested at an accredited sleep center. Eighty to 90 percent of people with sleep apnea are undiagnosed and untreated.

If you do have sleep apnea, there are several effective treatment options. Visit the AADSM Web site for more information.

Learn more about the Health Hotline at Deseret News

Photo by Shenghung Lin

Thursday, December 10, 2009

It’s all about Technique: Examining the Tennis Ball Technique

There are more than 18 million Americans suffering from sleep apnea. They have different severity levels of apnea and use different methods to treat their condition.

One way people treat apnea is with the Tennis Ball Technique (TBT).

A tennis ball is fastened to the person’s back with a belt or strap to prevent them from lying on their back during sleep.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is caused by the collapse of the soft tissues in a person’s throat, so side-sleeping is meant to take the weight off of a person’s throat, helping them breathe.

Unfortunately, an Australian study published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that many patients do not comply with the TBT.

The researchers prescribed 108 OSA patients with TBT. Approximately 2.5 years later, they sent out a questionnaire and received responses from 67 of the patients.

Less than 10 percent of the patients still used the TBT 30 months after the study launch.

Patients complained that the ball was uncomfortable, hurt their back, and did not improve their apnea.

TBT is one form of behavioral therapy. Other OSA patients try to lose weight, not drink alcohol, or stop smoking.

As shown in this study, behavior therapy may not be effective due to compliance issues.

Patients can also use oral appliance therapy (OAT) or CPAP to treat their apnea. Oral appliance therapy is performed by a dentist who fits his or her patient with an oral appliance, which the patient then wears while sleeping. This device repositions the patient’s lower jaw and tongue forward to allow air to flow in and out during sleep.

Read more about the study at the Sleep Education blog.

Image by Rustman

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting a Head Start on Healthy Habits

A survey published in December's Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine examined the health of children attending Head Start.

The study found that most Head Start programs work to prevent childhood obesity. Obese children have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

OSA is a serious medical condition. Children and adults with OSA may wake up hundreds of times a night without knowing it. This fragmented sleep puts them at risk for many problems.

About 30 percent of kids in Head Start programs are overweight or obese. So it is important that they have access to healthy foods and stay active.

The survey found that on a daily basis, most children at Head Start programs eat fruits and vegetables, drink low-fat or non-fat milk, and get play time.

Losing weight can decrease the severity of OSA. On Monday, this blog discussed a new study that shows that weight loss can eliminate sleep apnea.

In addition to weight loss, many adults with OSA can treat their apnea with an oral appliance. Find-a-dentist trained to treat sleep apnea near you.

Head Start is the largest federally funded early-childhood education program, serving about one million low-income kids ages 3 and 4.

Read more about the survey at USA Today.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Way to Test for Sleep Apnea?

New research shows that diagnosing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in children may be as simple as giving a urine test.

The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine published this study. Researchers compared the urine of 120 children.

Ninety of the children snored habitually. Thirty of the children did not snore.

When the researchers compared their urine, they found an unexpected distinction. Children's urine with OSA had different protein expression than children’s urine without apnea.

In a UPI article on the study, Dr. David Gozal explained the results.

"This certainly opens the way for possible simple diagnostic screening methods in the future,” Gozal said.

According to Gozal, only 20 to 30 percent of kids who undergo overnight sleep studies because of snoring actually have OSA. So many children who snore but do not have OSA could potentially avoid taking the sleep test.

A sleep study involves sleeping overnight at a center where breathing patterns are measured.

Sleep tests are the gold standard for diagnosing sleep apnea. Diagnosis should be done at an accredited sleep center.

In November, this blog posted a guide to sleep tests. Learn more about sleep apnea.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Eating Less and Breathing Better: Apnea Patients Benefit from Diet

A new study published in the British Medical Journal shows that weight loss can help lower sleep apnea severity.

Sleep apnea occurs with the soft tissue in a person’s throat collapses, closing the airway during sleep. These pauses in breath can occur for 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes for a minute or more, hundreds of times a night. There are many risks associated with sleep apnea.

This study included 63 obese men between the ages of 30 and 65 who had moderate to severe sleep apnea.

Each man received CPAP treatment. Thirty of the men also underwent an intense weight loss program for nine weeks. The other 33 men maintained their normal eating habits during this time.

Weight loss played a major role in the outcome of this study.

After the nine weeks, no one in the weight loss group had severe sleep apnea. Half of them had mild sleep apnea. And five of them had no apnea.

It’s never too late to improve your health. In this study, the men with severe sleep apnea benefited the most from weight loss.

The weight loss group used the Cambridge Diet, which involves drinking a low-calorie powder and water mixture instead of eating a meal, for the first seven weeks. This mixture was replaced with food for the last two weeks of the study.

The researchers noted that this weight loss method is unsustainable and that long-term diet and exercise changes help maintain weight loss.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that weight loss be combined with oral appliance therapy or CPAP for sleep apnea treatment.

Learn more about the study here.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Deck the Halls, but Don’t Forget about Your Health This Holiday Season

Snow covered the ground this morning around many parts of the nation and radio stations are playing carols.

The holidays are here.

Holidays are a busy time for everyone. And it can be easy to forget about maintaining your health. But the holiday season is also a great time to give thanks for your current health and take steps to make sure that you are just as healthy next year.

Eighty to 90 percent of sleep apnea patients are undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk for heart attack, stroke, diabetes and obesity among other illnesses.
This holiday season, take time to notice if you are feeling excessively tired during the day, having morning headaches, or snoring louder than you use to. If you are, consider taking a sleep test to determine if you suffer from sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be treated with an oral appliance, which looks like a mouth guard and is worn during sleep.

Treating sleep apnea now can help you enjoy many more holiday seasons to come. Here’s to your health!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Another Reason to Stay Drug-Free

A new study in the journal Neurology found that people who used the drug ecstasy had an eight times higher risk of developing sleep apnea.

Seventy-one people who had used ecstasy and 62 people who had never used the illegal drug took sleep tests. The ecstasy users had been drug-free for at least two weeks.

The study showed that a similar percent of users and non-users had mild apnea. But ecstasy users were the only people who had moderate and severe apnea.

Of the ecstasy users, 21 percent had mild apnea. Thirteen percent had moderate apnea. And one percent had severe apnea.

In contrast, four percent of men and two percent of women in the general population have any level of apnea.

The researchers found that the longer a person used ecstasy, the more severe their sleep apnea was.

In a U.S. News and World Report article on the study, Dr. Una McCann explained why ecstasy users have a higher risk of sleep apnea.

McCann said that ecstasy damages neurons related to serotonin, a chemical in the brain that is involved in sleep regulation and breathing, among other important functions.

Ecstasy is not the only risk factor for sleep apnea. Learn about other risk factors here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Love to Tweet? Follow the AADSM on Twitter!

The AADSM has launched into the Twittersphere!

You can get all the latest dental sleep medicine (DSM) updates by following @AADSMorg.

Like the Official Blog of the AADSM, @AADSMorg aims to relay the latest news in DSM in down-to-earth language. Followers will be keyed into important new research and useful patient tools.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious medical condition. Luckily, oral appliance therapy can safely and effectively treat many apnea patients.

It is important to talk with your sleep physician and dentist to see if an oral appliance (OA) can treat your apnea. Dentists trained in dental sleep medicine can help you choose which oral appliance is best for you specifically.

Oral appliance therapy is indicated for mild to moderate OSA patients if they prefer it to CPAP, the standard treatment therapy, cannot tolerate CPAP, or are unable to use positional therapy or weight loss to control their apnea. OAs are also recommended for severe OSA patients if they cannot tolerate CPAP.

Resources like this blog and @AADSMorg are here to help you better understand sleep apnea and oral appliance therapy.

The AADSM looks forward to tweeting with you!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Eight Reasons to Treat Sleep Apnea

Many people get tested for sleep apnea because their spouse complains about their loud snoring. While snoring can be aggravating, there are several less obvious reasons to get screened and treated for this serious medical condition. has a useful list of reasons to keep in mind. They are:

1. High blood pressure
OSA can cause high blood pressure, or hypertension. More severe OSA produces greater increases in blood pressure. Even children with OSA can experience rises in blood pressure.

2. Heart disease
OSA increases your risk for an irregular heartbeat, coronary artery disease, heart attack and congestive heart failure. Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S.

3. Stroke
OSA increases your risk for stroke, a leading cause of death in the U.S. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted because of a blood clot that blocks an artery or a broken blood vessel.

4. Brain damage
Damage from OSA affects brain structures that help control functions such as memory, mood and blood pressure.

5. Depression
Research shows that depression is common in people suffering from all levels of OSA.

6. Diabetes
Research suggests that OSA can contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes, a leading cause of death in the U.S., which occurs when the body fails to use insulin effectively.

7. Obesity
Obesity is a key risk factor for OSA. Some studies show that OSA may also promote weight gain. OSA can fragment sleep, reducing daytime energy and physical activity. It also can disrupt metabolism.

8. Mortality
Several studies show that people with sleep apnea have a higher risk of death than people without sleep apnea, especially if left untreated. The risk is greater for people whose sleep apnea is more severe.

Monday, November 30, 2009

A Cloudy Forecast for Type II Diabetes and Sleep Apnea

A new study in Diabetes Care estimates that the diabetes population is expected to double in the next 25 years, from 23 million currently to 44 million.

This rise will put a heavy burden on the health system. In a Chicago Tribune article on the study, Dr. Holly Kramer explained that diabetes is dangerous and costly. One reason is that diabetics have a high risk for developing other diseases, including sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea happens with the soft tissue in a person’s throat repeatedly collapses during sleep. Apneics may stop breathing for a minute or longer, hundreds of times a night. Their brain wakes them up to breathe again, interrupting their sleep. These arousals can cause serious side effects.

The good news is that many dentists can treat this condition. A dentist can use an oral appliance to keep his or her patient’s airway from collapsing during sleep. This therapy helps the patient get the restorative sleep he or she needs. Many dentists are trained in oral appliance therapy.

Sleep apnea and diabetes are closely related. People with sleep apnea also have a higher risk of developing diabetes.

Despite the forecast, treating sleep apnea is one way to decrease your risk for diabetes.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What’s all the Hype? Oral Appliance Therapy Lowers Hypertension

A new study published in the Journal of Oral Rehabilitation found that puppies and kittens aren’t the only things that can lower high blood pressure. Oral appliance therapy (OAT) also decreases high blood pressure in sleep apnea patients.

High blood pressure is common in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients. Studies show that 28 to 57 percent of people with OSA also have hypertension.

This study investigated whether OAT can lower OSA patients’ blood pressure.

Twenty-nine sleep apnea patients received an oral appliance to treat their apnea. Oral appliances look like mouth guards but are worn during sleep.

The patients’ blood pressure was measured before treatment, after three months of treatment, and after three years of treatment. The researchers used electronic blood pressure monitors to take the measurements.

After three months, 86 percent of the patients had responded to OAT. Success was considered when the patient experienced pauses in breath fewer than 10 times per hour during sleep.

Significant reductions in blood pressure occurred between the initial blood pressure measurement and the three-month evaluation. This reduced blood pressure remained three years later.

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that should be treated. Untreated sleep apnea and high blood pressure can lead to heart attack and stroke.

Find-a-dentist trained in OAT near you.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wishing You Safe Holiday Travels

Turkey’s tryptophan is not the only culprit of Thanksgiving sleepiness. This holiday, make sure to get enough restful sleep before hitting the roads.

Eighty to 90 percent of people who have sleep apnea do not know they have it. Their undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea gives them a higher risk for driving accidents.

It’s a good idea for anyone who has excessive daytime sleepiness to get screened for apnea.

Many people think that they get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep each night. But people with sleep apnea repeatedly wake up during the night to breathe, often not remembering these arousals. This fragmented sleep leads to daytime fatigue and dangerous driving conditions.

Truck drivers should especially be aware of their high risk for sleep apnea and know the signs of sleep apnea.

WALB News recently posted a newscast on driving safely this Thanksgiving.

In the report, Samuel Bledsoe, a long-time trucker, shared why he does not drive drowsy. “Late freight is better than scattered freight,” he said - a good motto to live by.

In October, this blog reported on the new safety recommendations by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). The NTSB would like all truck drivers to get screened for sleep apnea.

To keep the roads safe, some trucking companies already require that their employees get screened and treated for sleep apnea.

Whether you are a trucker, or just headed for some homemade cooking, here are tips to avoid drowsy driving.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A Quick Guide: Insurance Coverage for Oral Appliance Therapy

Sleep apnea is a serious medical condition. So claims for oral appliance therapy (OAT) will almost always be filed under your medical insurance, and not your dental insurance.

Many medical insurance plans in the U.S. provide benefit coverage for this treatment option.

Every insurance company has varying requirements and benefits for OAT. You will want to check with your insurance company about any specific requirements relating to coverage and deductibles.

Most medical insurance plans require documented proof that treatment is necessary. Keep these forms handy when contacting the insurance company to verify your benefits:

· Sleep study report documenting the presence of sleep apnea
· Diagnosis code (usually provided by diagnosing physician)
· Procedure code (provided by sleep disorders dentist’s office)
· Copy of physician’s prescription or letter of medical necessity for OAT
· Summary of dentist’s history and exam findings
· Evidence of health consequences associated with sleep apnea (if applicable)

If coverage is denied, don’t give up. Try writing a letter of appeal to your insurer. Explain your symptoms. Discuss the impact sleep apnea has had on your life. And clarify any problems that you’ve had with past treatments. Ask your physician and dentist to write similar letters. These letters may help you secure coverage.

Learn more here. Or speak with a dentist trained in OAT.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Kidney Transplant Patients Should Be Extra Aware of Risk Factors

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients are at risk for many diseases. But apnea patients who have had a kidney transplant should be extra aware of their risk for heart disease.

A new study examined cardiovascular risk factors in sleep apnea patients.

The study found that kidney transplant patients with OSA have an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke. Kidney disease patients with OSA were twice as likely to have heart disease or a stroke than patients without apnea.

The researchers have recommended that doctors screen transplant patients for OSA and treat the disease when appropriate.

Oral appliance therapy is a safe and effective treatment option. This therapy involves a dentist making an oral appliance that is worn during sleep. These appliances help patients breathe clearly and reduce there risk for heart disease, stroke and many other illnesses.

Four percent of men and 2 percent of women in the general population suffer from sleep apnea.

In contrast, twenty-five percent of transplant patients in the study had moderate to severe sleep apnea.

OSA is a serious condition that should be treated. Patients can find a dentist who is trained in oral appliance therapy here. They should get tested for apnea at an accredited sleep center.

MedPage Today and U.S. News and World Report have more on the study.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How Did Your Dentist Learn to Treat Sleep Apnea?

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) has pioneered dental sleep medicine (DSM) education. So many dentists trained to treat sleep apnea gained their knowledge through the Academy.

The Academy offers courses for dentists year-round.

There are many types of oral appliances. One device may work for one patient, but not for another patient. Success of a device depends on each patient’s individual anatomy and apnea severity. So the Academy teaches dentists which appliance will work best for different types of patients and levels of apnea.

Dentists learn how to select, fit, fabricate and adjust appliances for the best results. They learn how other sleep disorders can affect oral appliance therapy (OAT). And they learn how to address side effects.

The Academy also arranges mentorships and publishes academic journals. These are valuable resources for many dentists.

Dental schools have also started teaching their students DSM. Tufts University and the University of California, Los Angeles both offer DSM programs. They teach undergraduate and post-graduate students and practicing dentists about evaluation, assessment, and follow-up of sleep apnea treatment.

Eight dentists founded the Academy in 1991. Today, there are over 1,700 dentists trained in DSM worldwide. These dentists are listed by state in an AADSM search feature. Dentists with “Diplomate” status represent the highest level of knowledge in DSM.

You can read more about DSM education at DentistryIQ.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Waistlines Have Seen Better Days

According to the New York Times blog, Prescriptions, a new study by researchers at Emory University estimates that 103 million American adults will be obese by 2018. That’s 43 percent of adults! In contrast, 31 percent of people were obese in 2008.

If this trend continues, in 2018, Americans will spend one in five health care dollars treating obesity-related illness.

Before it comes to that, there are a few things people can do to prevent this rise in obesity. Eat healthy, exercise and make sure to get restful sleep.

People who don’t receive high quality sleep have an increased risk for obesity.

Many people think that they get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep a night. But some of them are not getting restful sleep. And apnea is the reason.

Sleep apnea happens when a person stops breathing for 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes a minute or longer, often hundreds of times a night. They may not remember waking up, but these people’s brain forces them awake throughout the night to breathe. This fragmented sleep prevents restorative sleep.

Trained dentists can treat apnea with oral appliances that are worn at night. These appliances open up a person’s blocked airway, allowing better airflow and higher sleep quality. Find-a-dentist trained in oral appliance therapy if you suffer from sleep apnea.

Treating sleep apnea is a key way to decrease your risk for obesity.

In the coming years, some states will be more widely affected by this epidemic than others.

By 2018, Colorado will be the only state where less than 30 percent of adults will be obese. In Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, Ohio, Oklahoma and South Dakota, more than half of adults will be obese.

Regardless of where you live, if you suspect that sleep apnea is affecting your sleep and overall health, visit a sleep center near you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sleep Apnea May Slow Stroke Recovery

Some researchers now recommend that stroke patients get screened and treated for sleep apnea to speed their recovery.

This counsel comes after a new study in the journal Neurology indicated that sleep apnea affects 50 to 70 percent of stroke patients.

The study found that sleep disordered breathing could compromise neurological recovery in stroke patients.

Stoke patients who suffer from sleep apnea have several treatment options. Oral appliance therapy is a safe and effective method for many patients.

Sleep apnea happens when the soft tissue in the back of the throat relaxes and blocks the passage of air during sleep. Oral appliances, which look like mouth guards and are worn at night, help to maintain an open airway by moving the jaw forward. They are fitted by dentists trained to treat sleep apnea.

Patients can also use CPAP and weight loss to decrease the severity of their apnea.

Sleep apnea screening is not just important for stroke patients. Early diagnosis and treatment of apnea can help prevent a stroke before it happens.

Stroke is one of many diseases that apnea patients are at risk for. They also have an increased risk for high blood pressure, heart attack, and diabetes.

Signs of sleep apnea include excessive daytime sleepiness, morning headaches, and loud snoring.
Visit an accredited sleep center to get tested.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Checking in on World Diabetes Day

World Diabetes Day (WDD) is celebrated each year on November 14. The WDD campaign aims to educate millions of people worldwide about diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes is one of the many diseases that sleep apnea patients are at risk for developing.

Many dentists treat sleep apnea because they like helping their patients become healthy. Treating sleep apnea helps prevent many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, heart attack and stroke.

Dentists treat sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. They use oral appliances to reposition the lower jaw and tongue forward, creating an open airway during sleep. This helps their patients’ get a good night’s rest.

Getting enough sleep is important for overall health, as is eating healthy and exercising.

The Sleep Education blog reported on a study that found that undiagnosed apnea is common in people with type 2 diabetes. Diagnosis can be done at an accredited sleep center.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends dietary weight loss as a treatment strategy for obese people who have sleep apnea. Weight loss should be combined with another treatment such as CPAP or an oral appliance.

The IDF estimates that 285 million people are living with diabetes and 344 million people worldwide are at risk. These are huge numbers, but there are many dentists who are chipping away at these numbers and improving their patients’ lives.

OSA is a serious condition. Learn more here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Risk Factors for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

It’s often thought that sleep apnea only affects older men. But sleep apnea actually affects people who have a wide range of risk factors.

Weight is a key indicator. People who are overweight and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 or who are obese and have a BMI of 30 and above are often afflicted with sleep apnea.

Similarly, men and women with large neck sizes, 17 inches or more for men and 16 inches or more for women, are at risk. This is because extra neck weight can cause the airway to collapse during sleep. Sleeping on one’s side instead of one’s back can help take this pressure off the airway.

Middle-aged and older men and post-menopausal women are at a higher risk for sleep apnea, as are people who belong to an ethnic minority.

Anyone who has a family member with OSA should be on guard because they also have a higher risk.

Parents should make sure to watch for warning signs in their children. Kids with large tonsils can also experience these dangerous pauses in breath during sleep.

Adults and children with Down Syndrome make up a risk group, as do smokers. So if you were thinking of quitting smoking, lowering your risk of sleep apnea is yet another reason.

These are not all of the risk factors of sleep apnea, but they are a few key ones to keep in mind.

Anyone who snores loudly, or is told they gasp or choke in their sleep should see a doctor, as should anyone who feels excessively tired during the day or has morning headaches.

Think you might have sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed at an accredited sleep center.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Oral Appliances: Custom Made Verses Boil-and-Bite

So you’ve decided to try an oral appliance.

There could be a few reasons you are considering this option.

You could be a mild to moderate sleep apnea patient who thinks that you would prefer an oral appliance to CPAP, the standard treatment therapy. You do not tolerate CPAP. Or you are unable to use positional therapy or weight loss to control your apnea.

Or you could be a severe OSA patient who cannot tolerate CPAP. Note, if you have severe OSA, you should always try CPAP before seeing a dentist about an oral appliance.

Supposing you are in one of these categories, now is a good time to find a dentist in your area who is trained in dental sleep medicine.

Your dentist may recommend that you wear a mandibular advancement device (MAD) to treat you OSA. A MAD will reposition your lower jaw and keep your airway clear to help you breathe during sleep.

There are custom made MADs, which require your dentist to make a plaster cast of your teeth. And there are thermoplastic boil-and-bite devices which cost less and take less time to make. The boil-and-bite devices work much like sports mouth guards.

So which should you choose?

This cornerstone study from 2007 indicates that the custom made device is definitely the best way to go.

It may cost more and take more time to make, but in the end, the custom made device will treat your apnea significantly better.

Custom made devices are much more effective at lowering patients' Apnea-Hypopnea Indexes. Patients also comply with custom made devices more than they do with the boil-and-bite devices.

This is a good statistic to think about. In the study, almost 70 percent of patients were not successfully treated with the boil-and-bite. But the majority of these people were successfully treated with the custom made device.

It may cost more and take more time to make, but remember: sleep apnea is a serious condition and getting successfully treated is your ultimate goal.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Working Out Can Improve Your Apnea

A recent study published online by the journal Sleep and Breathing found that exercise can reduce the severity of sleep apnea.

The study included 20 patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Part of the group received no treatment. The other half did breathing and aerobic exercises for one and a half hours at a time. These workout sessions took place three times a week for three months.

The exercise group did 15 to 30 minutes of breathing exercises and 45 to 60 minutes of aerobic exercises at each session. Aerobic activities included stretching, bicycling, and slow jogging.

Was all the sweat and pain worth it?

The study results indicate yes.

Supervised exercise improved Apnea-Hypopnea Indexes (AHI), quality of life, quality of sleep, and exercise ability in the group who worked out.

This is great news for the 18 million Americans who suffer from sleep apnea!

Sleep and Breathing is the official journal of the AADSM.

Photo by JanetandPhil

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Tips to Avoid Drowsy Driving

Many people who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) feel excessively sleepy during the day. This sleepiness can increase their risk for driving accidents.

Sleepiness can affect alertness, concentration and reaction times.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) has tips to avoid driving drowsy:

· Get enough sleep
JJJJJ -Sleep seven to eight hours each night
· Take breaks while driving
JJJJJ -Pull off at rest areas and take 15 to 20 minute naps when feeling sleepy
· Do not drink alcohol
JJJJJ -Alcohol can further impair a person’s ability to stay awake and make decisions
JJJJJ -SleepEducation has an interesting post on the effects sleep loss and alcohol can have on OSA patients.
· Do not drive late at night
JJJJJ -Avoid driving after midnight

Most importantly, treat your apnea. Sleep apnea stops a person from getting restorative sleep. But this condition can be easily treated. People with mild to moderate OSA can visit a dentist in their area to get fitted for an oral appliance.

Key stats on drowsy driving:

· Nine out of 10 police officers have reported stopping a driver who they thought was drunk but was actually drowsy
· Eighty thousand people fall asleep at the wheel each day
· More than 250,000 sleep-related motor vehicle accidents occur each year
· An estimated 20 percent of all serious transportation injuries on the nation’s highways are related to sleep

Learn more about Drowsy Driving at the AADSM Web site.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Truckers Truck on towards Better Health

An article posted on reports positive results in a new clinical trial. The trial tested for and treated truck drivers with sleep apnea.

The study looks at money saved from lower medical costs and fewer driving accidents due to the truckers' treatment.

"The goal of the trial is to quantify the health benefits and document changes in fatigue-related accidents and safety as a consequence of this unique program," said Dr. Jeffrey Durmer, principal investigator of the trial.

Researchers believe that because untreated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can lead to major heath problems, it is cheaper for trucking companies to test and treat their drivers.

Truckers have a high risk for sleep apnea. An estimated 28 percent of truckers suffer from it.

In contrast, four percent of men and two percent of women in the general population have sleep apnea.

OSA is a serious medical condition. If left untreated, it can lead to heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

It also increases a person’s risk for daytime sleepiness and drowsy driving.

OSA is easy to test for and treat. CPAP and oral appliance therapy are two treatment options.

This blog recently reported on trucker safety recommendations. The National Transportation Safety Board would like all truckers to be screened for OSA.

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed at a sleep center.

Learn more about OSA.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Marching Towards Better Sleep

In October, the Official Blog of the AADSM reported that service members are at risk for daytime sleepiness when deployed. In part, this is because CPAP treatment can be hard to comply with while traveling.

study by researchers at the Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington, DC gave more evidence that an oral appliance (OA) is a good alternative treatment for apnea patients in the military. These devices are both portable and compact.

Untreated apnea can lead to cognitive impairment and daytime sleepiness. So it is important for deployed service members to keep treating their apnea.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) involves the fitting and adjustment of OAs, which look like mouth guards and are worn at night. These devices reposition the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep an open airway.

The researchers assessed 638 sleep apnea patients. More than 85 percent of them were male.

Overall, OAs successfully treated half the patients.

OAT benefited people with mild sleep apnea the most. More than 65 percent of people with mild apnea responded to OAT.

In contrast, half of moderate apneics responded and 35 percent of severe apneics benefited.

An estimated 25 percent of the patients did not tolerate their OA. An additional 25 percent did not successfully respond to OAT.

The researchers concluded that OA is more effective in patients with mild apnea. But those with moderate to severe apnea may also benefit.

In a deployed military setting when CPAP is not an option, oral appliances hold even more advantages.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

One Thing to Consider before Teeing Off

A new study on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may help your golf game.

Reuters Health explains that when treated with nasal positive airway pressure (nPAP), golfers with moderate to severe sleep apnea improved their handicap.

Twelve golfers were given nPAP treatment and assessed during 20 rounds of golf. Their results were compared to the performance of 12 control golfers.

On average, the golfers who received treatment saw their handicap lower more than one point. Some of the better golfers who received treatment saw their handicaps drop as many as three points.

Sleep apnea should not go untreated. It can cause excessive daytime sleepiness and cognitive problems. Beyond hurting your golf game, sleep apnea increases your risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes and driving accidents.

nPAP, or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP), is the standard treatment therapy for sleep apnea. But 25 to 50 percent of people who are treated do not tolerate this option. The Reuters Health article explains that some people find nPAP uncomfortable, noisy or embarrassing.

Oral appliances are a safe and effective alternative. They are fitted by dentists and are worn at night like a mouth guard.

Signs of OSA include morning headaches, daytime sleepiness and snoring. Eighty to 90 percent of people with apnea are undiagnosed and untreated. Visit a sleep center to get tested for this serious medical condition.

You can hear a podcast about this study at Scientific American.

Photo by Annais Ferreira

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Dentists on Guard against Sleep Disorders

According to a new study that will be presented at the American College of Chest Physicians' Annual Conference, CHEST, one in four sleep apnea patients suffers from Bruxism.

In contrast, eight percent of the U.S. population suffers from this condition.

Bruxism happens when a person clenches or grinds his or her teeth together. It can occur during the waking or sleeping hours.

In the study, men and Caucasians with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) had the highest rate of Bruxism – 43 percent of men and 35 percent of Caucasians with apnea ground their teeth.

Previous studies also found that OSA patients have a higher prevalence of Bruxism than people without OSA.

There are several ways these two diseases tie together.

Bruxism can reflect anxiety or depression, both of which people with sleep apnea are at risk for.

Apnea can also cause daytime sleepiness, leading to high caffeine intake. And caffeine is associated with Bruxism.

But a trip to the dentist’s office can help with more than a shiny smile.

Dentists can help detect Bruxism by looking at their patients’ teeth. If the tips of a person’s teeth look flat, it may be because of clenching or grinding.

According to the study, if Bruxism is detected, there is a 25 percent chance that sleep apnea might also be an issue.

Luckily, many dentists are trained to detect OSA as well.

OSA occurs when the tongue or soft tissue in a person’s throat collapse, blocking the airway during sleep.

Dentists trained in dental sleep medicine play a large roll in their patients’ overall well-being, in part because they see their patients on a regular basis and can detect problems early on.

When they see problems like Bruxism and OSA, dentists should direct their patients to accredited sleep centers for a sleep study.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Oral Appliances and Their Side Effects

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is becoming a well-known treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). An increasing number of dentists are providing OAT at their practices. And more research is being done on the side effects of oral appliances (OAs).

OAT has been shown to have positive and negative side effects. Negative effects are often minor and can be prevented with adjustments to the appliance.

A recent study in the journal Sleep and Breathing found that long-term use of OAs does not hurt the jaw joint, or temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

The study measured TMJ dysfunction approximately three years after patients began OAT. Researchers found that jaw problems, decreased significantly throughout the treatment.

A similar 2005 study found that after five years, people who used an OA to control their apnea experienced fewer side effects, such as morning headaches and jaw discomfort, than non-users.

Wearing an OA can have some negative side effects. These effects include:

· jj Jaw, tooth, gum, tongue, or facial pain
· jj Dry mouth
· jj Salvation
· jj Gagging
· jj Changes in the biting surface of the teeth

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recommends the use of OAs for mild to moderate apnea patients if they prefer the appliance to CPAP, cannot tolerate CPAP, or cannot use positional therapy or weight loss to control their apnea. OAs are also recommended for severe patients if they are unable to tolerate CPAP.

OSA occurs when the tongue and soft tissue in the back of the throat collapse, blocking the airway. People with OSA can stop breathing for 10 to 30 seconds, sometimes for one minute or longer. This pause in breathing can happen hundreds of times a night.

OAT involves the fitting and adjustment of OAs, which look like mouth guards and are worn at night. These devices reposition the lower jaw and tongue forward to keep an open airway.

There are two main types of OAs. Every oral appliance is different. Speak with your dentist to determine which device will work best for you.


The Official Blog of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is intended as an information source only. Content of this blog should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment, and it is not a substitute for medical care, which should be provided by the appropriate health care professional. If you suspect you have a sleep-related breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you should consult your personal physician or visit an AASM-accredited sleep disorders center. The AADSM, and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as the managing agent of the AADSM, assume no liability for the information contained on the Official Blog of the AADSM or for its use.