We know that there are many complications of sleep apnea. These complications affect your brain, your heart, and more. But did you know that sleep apnea can be a threat to your dental implants? That’s according to a new study, which showed that implant complications were higher in people with obstructive sleep apnea.

Couple sleeping in bed

Prosthetic Complications

It’s important to note that the complications patients experience in this study are just related to the prosthesis: the bridge, crown, or the connection piece that ties the implant root. Although this can be difficult, it doesn’t seem that sleep apnea increases the risk of dental implant failure.

For this study, researchers looked at 67 patients who had dental implants and came into a sleep clinic for diagnosis of sleep apnea. Of these 67 patients, 16 had some form of dental implant complication. There were a total of 30 complications in 22 of the bridges/crowns. The most common complication was chipped porcelain.

Researchers used sleep tests to diagnose sleep apnea, which was found in 49 of the 67 patients. These patients accounted for 13 out of 16 patients who had dental implant complications. In raw terms, the complication rate for patients with sleep apnea was 27%, compared to just 17% for patients without sleep apnea.

The study didn’t exactly show a correlation between the severity of sleep apnea and implant complications, but it did show that the most severe sleep apnea was associated with complications.

How Sleep Apnea Causes Implant Complications

The pattern of implant complications related to sleep apnea shows us that the main problem is bruxism related to sleep apnea. How is bruxism related to sleep apnea?

Remember that your jaw is one of the main supports of your airway, which is all soft tissue. When the throat muscles relax, the airway basically hangs on the jaw.

When the airway collapses, cutting off air, the body has to put the jaw into a position where it helps hold the airway open better. That’s what causes the jaw to clench together, and this clenching behavior can last for a while after each apnea. With potentially hundreds of apneas each night, it can drive a clenching behavior that is very destructive for teeth and for restorations like dental crowns, whether they’re on dental implants or natural teeth.

Protect Your Health, Your Teeth, and Your Implants

Sleep apnea has a broad impact on your health. It can disrupt your metabolism, stress your heart, and keep you from getting the rest you need at night. Plus it can damage your teeth because of the clenching behavior.

But sleep apnea treatment can be highly effective. Oral appliance therapy is more convenient and comfortable for many people–and it may do more to help protect your teeth and implants.

If you would like to learn more about the benefits of sleep apnea treatment in Columbus, OH, please call (614) 848-5001 today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Mike Firouzian at the Center for Family & General Dentistry.