Even minor sleep problems can raise a woman’s BP

Here we go again. Even the smallest sleep disturbance can increase a woman’s risk of high blood pressure. This isn’t good. Women who slept for the recommended duration also experienced this increase. The key is eliminating any sleep disturbances altogether.

We know that insufficient sleep increases blood pressure, which leads to a risk for heart-related conditions. However, researchers recently completed a study that assessed whether or not less serious sleep issues could also cause measurable cardiovascular effects. What they found was, yes, it can.

Women are affected the most

About one-third of people in the U.S. do not get enough sleep with women affected more than men. Women are often more likely to be carers for children and elderly relatives, which accounts for their lack of sleep. They can also experience shifts in hormones both monthly and across their lifespan.

Because of this, researchers looked to focus on women in this new study. What they found was particularly worrisome because sleep deprivation and milder sleep problems may have a disproportionate effect on cardiovascular health in women.

As dental sleep medicine specialists, we need to help care for not only all our patients, but women in particular due to their increased chances of a lack of consistent sleep.

Does treating sleep apnea improve diabetes management?

Managing diabetes requires a “day-in, day-out” effort to control the factors that affect blood sugar levels. And what might make it even more difficult to manage symptoms is if you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea. A study conducted by a team of scientists, including two professors at the West Virginia University School of Medicine, is working as part of a multi-center project sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.

The team of researchers looked to assess what impact treating obstructive sleep apnea has on diabetes self-management. Let’s take a look at what impact treating OSA has on diabetes self-management for our patients.

What is the connection?

OSA is a common disease that is linked to a range of problems in patients with diabetes and those who do not suffer from this condition. From poor work performance to heart failure, sleep apnea is the reason behind many health conditions. It can even make patients with diabetes less sensitive to their insulin.

In a recent study, researchers split patients in half. One half used a CPAP machine to treat their sleep apnea, while the other half used a mock CPAP machine that looks and feels like a regular machine, but does not impart any of its benefits. Throughout the study patients also underwent periodic blood sugar checks.

While the study has not concluded yet, researchers are hopeful that treatment of sleep apnea will help improve diabetes self-management in their patients. If the study does show that using CPAP machines improves blood sugar control in patients with diabetes and sleep apnea, there will be no reason why we should not screen more of our patients with diabetes for OSA.

If a patient has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, physicians can persuade them to use CPAP machines regularly. This can work with oral appliances too. Patients with diabetes struggle so much with their sugar levels. This study can provide some relief knowing there is another option to help improve their health.

I know this study doesn’t focus on oral appliances. But should look to oral appliance therapy as a safe alternative to CPAP for our patients.

Worldwide almost 1 billion people suffer from sleep apnea

Now is the time to act. International sleep experts estimate that there are just about one billion people worldwide that suffer from sleep apnea. With so many people suffering from this sleep disorder, now is the time to begin providing dental sleep medicine services in your practice. The longer you wait, the more competition will be out there, which will make it harder for you to set yourself apart from the rest. So, what are you waiting for?

A new sleep apnea number

In a study presented by ResMed and shared in Sleep Review, an international panel of researchers looked to provide a clearer scope of the impact of sleep apnea. It was previously estimated that there were 100 million people with obstructive sleep apnea, which was presented to us in 2007 from a World Health Organization study using the best available data at the time.

Technology improvements allowed researchers to look at more advanced ways of detecting OSA and underreported statistics from other areas of the world. This new study looks at an impacted population that is significantly larger than previously identified.

What does this mean for dental sleep medicine?

It means we should speak with our patients even more about how sleep can affect their overall health. It should also get people to think more about whether or not their bed partner snores. The more you get your patients to think about sleep apnea, the better we can help them. Sleep apnea is not a disease that only affects older, overweight men–it can affect anyone.

Let’s take charge of our patients’ health and well-being by providing dental sleep medicine sources in our dental offices. By completing continuing education, you can be better equipped to treat these patients. And while it might only be a fraction of the 1 billion people in the world, it can still play a big impact on the health of our nation.

Contact me to learn more about dental sleep medicine and upcoming lectures you can attend to advance your knowledge of this growing condition.

How to help TMD patients best choose their food

Limited jaw movement or locking of the TMJ can have a negative effect on mandibular opening, biting and chewing. Myofacial pain is characterized by pain originating from the masticatory and other pericranial muscles. TMD also limits the mandibular opening and pain aggravated during function, specifically when eating and chewing.

Choosing food for TMD patients

A patient’s eating habits can be significantly altered by this condition. It can also compromise the quality of their diet. When patients are experiencing jaw pain and difficulty eating or chewing, how do you help them? What diet suggestions can you offer?The food choices in the infographic below can help:

For more information on TMD and helping your patients improve their diets, please contact me. We can discuss food options and how to cook meals. I can also provide you with this fun handout for your office and patients! What else are you doing to improve your patients’ diets?