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.

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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.