Truck Drivers and Sleep Apnea

Truck drivers and sleep apnea – the need to get treated in order to remain active. How do you get them to receive diagnosis and treatment? Many don’t want to seek a diagnosis because they are afraid they will lose their job.

Sleep apnea can occur in all age groups and both sexes. However, there are a number of factors that may put patients at a higher risk of developing sleep apnea:

  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Having a small upper airway
  • Being overweight
  • Having a recessed chin, small jaw, or large overbite
  • A large neck size
  • Smoking and alcohol use
  • Ethnicity

And, when a person suffers from sleep apnea, it can significantly impact their driving ability. Many truck drivers suffer from sleep apnea, but do not even realize it. This is where the Feds are stepping in to require treatment and testing. Do you agree?

Sleep Apnea’s Effect on Driving

As we already know, sleep apnea affects sleep. However, it can also affect daytime alertness and performance. If sleep apnea is untreated, it can make it difficult for a person to stay awake, focus their eyes, and react quickly while driving. Many studies have been conducted to show the negative effect sleep apnea has on driving. Sleep apnea increases the risk of a driver being involved in a fatigue-related car accident.

While many patients suffering from sleep apnea might say they never fall asleep driving, it is important to remember that a person doesn’t have to fall asleep to get in a crash. By being less attentive or alert, people can still be involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Can People Still Drive?

Yes, people with sleep apnea can still operate motor vehicles. However, it is vital that those people get treated for their sleep apnea in order to avoid negative effects. Once sleep apnea is successfully treated, a driver can regain a medically qualified to drive status.

With most cases of sleep apnea being successfully treated, it is important to remember that we can help our patients. Each state has its own medical standards set for truck drivers, which is why it is important for patients to understand the regulations for their states.

It is important for truck drivers (and everyone in general)  suffering from sleep apnea to receive a diagnosis and proper treatment before getting back on the road. To learn more about this, please contact my office or visit my website at As dentists, we can help truck drivers remain active and on the road.

Missing Teeth and Pediatric Sleep Apnea

Sometimes the problems we experience as adults, could have been avoided when we were younger. In order to continue to help our patients through all stages of their lives, we need to ensure they are receiving the best care possible as children. For instance, missing teeth in early childhood can result in abnormal facial morphology with a narrow upper airway[1]. As a result, this can leads to early dental extractions and the presence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

The Study

In order to better understand this connection between dental extractions, abnormal facial morphology and sleep apnea, a study was conducted. The study reviewed clinical data, results of polysomnographic sleep studies, and orthodontic imaging studies of children with dental agenesis or early extraction of permanent teeth seen during the past five years. They compared their findings to those of age, gender, and body mass index.

The Results

As a result of the study, 31 children with dental agenesis and 11 children with early dental extractions had at least two permanent teeth missing. All children missing teeth had complaints and signs of OSA. There was a significant difference between the mean apnea-hypopnea indices in the three dental agenesis, dental extraction, and T&A studied groups. This was the mean abnormal AHI lowest in the pediatric dental agenesis group.In the children with missing teeth, aging was associated with the presence of a higher AHI.

The study showed that alveolar bone growth is dependent on the presence of the teeth that it supports. The dental agenesis in the studied children was not part of a syndrome. It was an isolated finding. In the children with permanent teeth missing due to congenital agenesis and/or permanent teeth extraction known to predispose the collapse of the upper airway during sleep, OSA was recognized at a later age.

Sleep disordered breathing may be left untreated for a prolonged period with progressive worsening of symptoms overtime. By providing proper care and treatment early on, we can prevent the development of OSA in those children.

Contact my office to learn more about sleep apnea and its role in children with missing teeth. It is our duty as dentists to provide the best care possible, and that means our children.



[1]  Guilleminault, C., Abad, V. C., Chiu, H. Y., Peters, B., & Quo, S. (2016). Missing teeth and pediatric obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep and Breathing,20(2), 561-568.

There’s a New Definition of Dental Sleep Medicine

Attention! Attention! There’s a new definition of Dental Sleep Medicine (DSM)–wait what? I know, I thought the same thing when I read this article. However, it did bring to mind some valuable information we can utilize from here on out for DSM. To begin with, dental sleep medicine is an extension of dentistry in which we an provide appropriate services for the treatment of sleep apnea. So, what is this new definition?

The New Definition

Dental Sleep Medicine’s new definition goes above and beyond sleep apnea. This new definition takes the role of sleep apnea treatment and takes it one step further by incorporating pain into the equation. DSM is the discipline concerned with the study of the oral and maxillofacial causes and consequences of sleep-related problems.

This helps to broaden the subject area to other problems in dentistry, such as orofacial or craniofacial pain, bruxism, and other areas. These disorders have been touched on as their own, but what about together?

Where to Begin

This “new” definition of dental sleep medicine can improve the services offered at your practice. To begin 2017 out on the right foot, I am excited to announce that on January 20-21 my first lecture will be “ABC – Airway, Bruxism & Craniofacial Pain”. This lecture will dive into this “new definition” of dental sleep medicine so you can continue to expand your dental practice services and expertise.

Take the next step in providing proper care to your patients and by educating yourself in the New Year. With the availability of the ABC lecture and others, I can work with you to continue your education.

Oral Appliance Study Displays Success

We never needed further proof of the success of oral appliance therapy, but it doesn’t hurt to hear more about it and reaffirm its input. In this recent study, we can see just how successful Narval appliances are in the treatment of sleep apnea. Let’s take a look…

The Background

In this study, mandibular repositioning devices (MRDs) are usually recommended as the first form of therapy for patients suffering from mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Unfortunately, though, data on the long-term efficacy of MRDs hasn’t been readily available. This is not only true for patients with OSA who are noncompliant with CPAP, but also in those with more severe OSA.

To get a better understanding of the success of oral appliances, such as MRDs and the Narval appliance, the ORCADES study[1] aimed to determine the long-term efficiency and tolerability of two custom-made Narval MRDs for the treatment of OSA patients. The study was completed over a three to six month period of time.

Eligible patients suffering from OSA who also refused or were CPAP noncompliant, were studied. The outcomes were measured after gradual mandibular advancement titration, which included AHI, oxygen saturation, sleepiness, symptoms, quality of life, side effects and compliance. And, drumroll please! Here are the results…

The Results

Of a total of 369 patients involved in the study, overall MRD treatment was successful in approximately 76%. Additionally, complete response to treatment with MRDs was achieved in 64% of participants.

The study also treated severe OSA with MRDs, and about 60% of the participants were effectively treated with about 38% having completed symptoms resolution. As a result, the use of MRDs in the treatment of sleep apnea significantly decreased a person’s sleepiness, and eliminated symptoms while improving their quality of life. Treatment with MRDs were very well tolerated and compliance was at its highest rate.

Custom-made appliances, such as Narval MRDs, are effective forms of treatment for mild to severe OSA, as well as for patients who are CPAP noncompliant. Keep this study in mind when informing your patients of proper treatment options, as well as sharing with referring doctors.





[1]  Vecchierini, M. F., Attali, V., Collet, J. M., d’Ortho, M. P., El Chater, P., Kerbrat, J. B., … & Mullens, E. (2016). A custom-made mandibular repositioning device for obstructive sleep apnoea–hypopnoea syndrome: the ORCADES study. Sleep Medicine, 19, 131-140.