Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Obstructive sleep apnea and tooth wear

In my practice, I see lots of patients with excessive tooth wear, or irreversible loss of the tops of the teeth. It gets more common with age. It's not always due to teeth grinding - it can occur from eating certain foods, especially those high in acidity. This study looked at the association between tooth wear and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This was a study done in a private dental clinic in Spain, and patients diagnosed with tooth wear each had an overnight home sleep study to assess for OSA. The results showed that the prevalence of OSA was three times higher in patients with tooth wear. And there was a positive correlation between OSA severity and tooth wear, meaning the more severe the OSA, the more severe the tooth wear. The relationship was not diminished after controlling for body mass index, age, and gender.

The study authors speculated that there could be a common mechanism behind the OSA and tooth wear, such as arousal from sleep contributing to tooth clenching or grinding. The study authors also pointed out that the association between OSA and tooth wear could be coincidental, as both conditions become more prevalent with advancing age.

Finally, the study authors recommended that dentists consider referring patients with tooth wear to their primary care provider or sleep doctor for evaluation of possible OSA.

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