At Contemporary Dentistry, we are mindful of the ways that dental care can impact your overall health. This isn’t just a holistic dentistry principle, it’s something we’ve observed and strive to provide for our patients–dentistry that can improve your health and your quality of life.
One of the ways that a dentist can dramatically improve your quality of life and your health is by treating sleep apnea. Sleep apnea can contribute to many serious health problems, including heart failure. Now a new study confirms that treating sleep apnea can definitely reduce your risk of heart failure.
A Large, Long-Term Study
This new study comes out of Denmark. It includes medical data from nearly five million people followed over the 12 years from 2000 to 2012. Almost everyone in Denmark is included in the study population, except for four groups:
- Under age 18 at the start of the study
- Over age 100 at the start of the study
- Previously diagnosed with heart failure
- Previously diagnosed with sleep apnea
In this population, about 40,000 people were diagnosed with sleep apnea over the course of the study. Just under half of those diagnosed with sleep apnea got treated (18,000), while the rest remained untreated.
Overall, the population with sleep apnea had elevated risks of many systemic illnesses, including diabetes, heart attack, atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, peripheral artery disease, stroke, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, and cancer.
Heart Failure Risks Reduced
The study showed that people with sleep apnea had a higher risk of heart failure, but that treating sleep apnea could reduce that risk. However, the benefit was mostly linked to people over the age of 60, and that these people never saw their risk fall as low as the risk for people without sleep apnea. People under the age of 60 saw a reduction in risk, but it wasn’t statistically significant.
If you look at this study, you might think that the results show pretty limited benefit, and that’s true, but there’s a reason for that: the only sleep apnea treatment used was CPAP, and researchers didn’t know whether people were actually using their CPAP or not. That’s a big deal, because studies show that only about half of people actually use their CPAP machines for the recommended amount of time, and that number decreases even further over time. That means that, in order to show up as positive results, the approximately 9000 people who are actually using their CPAP have to get results good enough to more than balance out the approximately 9000 people who aren’t using their CPAP. The fact that they’re able to do this shows that treating sleep apnea can really make a big difference.
Sleep Apnea Treatment Helps, If You Use It
Over and over again, studies show that sleep apnea treatment really does help people who actually use it, but for many people CPAP is just too unpleasant to wear every night.
Fortunately, there is an alternative that can help you get sleep apnea treatment even if CPAP seems like a terrible burden. At Contemporary Dentistry, we offer a CPAP alternative: oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances are convenient, comfortable, and easy to use. Using the same standard as for CPAP compliance, about 96% of people use their oral appliance. That’s sleep apnea treatment that can really help.