Study finds link between sleep apnea, perio disease

A new study in the Journal of Periodontal Research (November 30, 2012) has found a significant association between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and periodontal disease, although further research is needed to clarify the causal relationship between the two conditions, according to the authors.

The cross-sectional study included 687 participants (460 men, 227 women; ages 47-77) who were examined between August 2009 and September 2010 as part of the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study.

The participants underwent standard polysomnography, clinical periodontal examination, and health screening examinations. Periodontitis was defined as a clinical attachment level (CAL) of 6 mm or greater and probing pocket depth of 4 mm or more. OSA was determined using the apnea-hypopnea index (AHI), with an AHI score of 5 or higher as the cut-off to indicate the presence of OSA.

The results showed that 17.5% of the participants had periodontitis, 46.6% had OSA, and 60.0% who were diagnosed with periodontitis had OSA. OSA was positively associated with periodontitis, probing pocket depth, and CAL in a dose-response manner, according to the researchers. It was also positively associated with periodontitis in subjects 55 years of age and older but not in subjects younger than 55, they noted.

"In our study, old age, male gender, current smoking status, mouth breathing during sleep, and high AHI were identified as risk factors for periodontitis," they wrote.

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