Diabetes & Oral Health

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Your sleep impacts every aspect of your health and daily life. Sleeping well helps you look, feel and perform your best. But a sleep problem can be harmful to your health and well-being. One of the most common sleep problems is obstructive sleep apnea. Learn more about the warning signs and how you can get help.

About Obstructive Sleep Apnea


Nearly 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which can cause them to stop breathing hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute.

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, repeated breathing pauses occur, which often reduce your oxygen levels. These breathing pauses are followed by brief awakenings that disturb your sleep.

Common signs of sleep apnea include snoring and gasping or choking sounds during sleep. Like snoring, sleep apnea is more common in men, but it can occur in women too, especially during and after menopause. Having excess body weight, a narrow airway or misaligned jaw all increase the risk of sleep apnea.

Is Treating OSA Important?
Treating obstructive sleep apnea is incredibly important to your health. When left untreated, sleep apnea often causes excessive daytime sleepiness or fatigue, as well as morning headaches and memory loss. Sleep apnea also is a threat to your safety as it increases your risk of drowsy driving and workplace accidents. Untreated sleep apnea raises your risk for serious health problems. These include:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stroke
  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic acid reflux
  • Erectile dysfunction

Severe, untreated sleep apnea even increases your risk of death.

How is OSA Diagnosed?
Kleinheinz Dentistry is proud to offer a Free Sleep Study. Call our office for more information. 704-542-6003.

How is OSA Treated?

Dr. Kleinheinz can discuss treatment options with you. We will provide a FREE SLEEP STUDY at your convenience.

  • Oral appliance therapy uses a mouth guard-like device - worn only during sleep - to maintain an open, unobstructed airway.

Research shows that oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. An oral appliance is worn in the mouth only while you sleep and fits like a sports mouth guard or an orthodontic retainer. Oral appliances support your jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway.

Many patients consider a sleep apnea appliance to be more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask. Oral appliances also are quiet, portable and easy to care for.

If you decide that oral appliance therapy is the best treatment option for you, then Dr. Kleinheinz will recommend a prescription for you to receive a custom-made sleep apnea appliance. More than 100 oral appliances have received FDA clearance. We prescribe and make the FDA approved appliances. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans. We will do a complete benefits check upon your scheduled appointment.

Periodontal disease can affect your diabetes and body.Diabetes is a group of chronic inflammatory diseases that affect the body's ability to process sugar. If you have diabetes, it is particularly important to maintain excellent oral health. That's because diabetics are more prone to oral infections such as periodontal (gum) disease, which can result in tooth loss if left untreated. Conversely, the presence of gum disease can make it harder for people with diabetes to control their blood sugar levels.

Periodontal disease is a chronic ailment that is also associated with an elevated level of systemic (whole-body) inflammation. Like diabetes, it may have wide-ranging consequences outside the mouth — possibly increasing a person's chance of experiencing major cardiovascular events (such as heart attack or stroke) or adverse pregnancy outcomes (low birth weight and pre-term delivery). So perhaps it's not surprising that a growing body of evidence suggests the two diseases are related.

Two Diseases With A Lot In Common

It has long been recognized that having diabetes is a risk factor likely to increase the severity of periodontal disease. That's because diabetes reduces the body's resistance to infection, making diabetics more susceptible to both bacterial and fungal infections. Likewise, evidence shows that having serious gum disease (periodontitis) is likely to result in worsening blood glucose control in diabetics; it can also increase the risk of diabetic complications. So, what's the connection?

Blood test.While no one is sure at present, the two diseases seem to share some common pathways and disease-causing mechanisms. Both are associated with the process of inflammation and the immune response. Inflammation itself — often signaled by pain, heat and redness — is evidence of the body's immune system at work, attempting to fight disease, repair its effects, and prevent it from spreading. Chronic or prolonged inflammation, however, can lead to serious problems in different parts of the body and a decline in overall health.

What does this mean to you? According to one large study, if you're diabetic, your risk of dying from heart attack is over twice as great if you also have severe periodontitis — and for kidney disease, your risk is 8.5 times higher! Plus, uncontrolled periodontal disease makes it six times more likely that your ability to control blood sugar levels will get worse over time. So not only can having one condition put you at risk for worsening the other — having both can cause a significant deterioration in your overall health.

A Two-Way Street

While diabetes can't be cured, it's possible to manage the disease on a long-term basis. And here's some good news: Clinical studies show that diabetics who get effective treatment for their periodontal disease also receive some significant benefits in their general health. Many exhibit better blood glucose control and improved metabolic functioning after periodontal treatment.

What kinds of treatments might be needed? While much depends on the individual situation, some typical procedures might include: scaling and root planing (a deep cleaning that removes plaque bacteria from teeth, both above and below the gum line); antibiotic therapy; and oral hygiene self-care instruction.

Likewise, if you're at risk for diabetes but haven't yet developed the disease, there are some things you can do to forestall it. While there is a significant genetic component, a major risk factor for diabetes is being overweight — so keeping your weight under control will better your chances of avoiding it. High levels of triglycerides or low levels of HDL (good) cholesterol are also risk factors. These may respond to changes in your diet — like cutting out sugary drinks and eating healthier foods. Also, high blood pressure coupled with an inactive lifestyle puts you at greater risk. Here, moderate exercise can help.

When you come to our office, be sure to let us know if you're being treated for, or are at risk of developing diabetes. And if you are managing the disease, remember that it's more important than ever to maintain good oral health.

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