Apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing -- or instances of abnormally low breathing -- during sleep. Each pause in breathing can last from a few seconds up to whole minutes, and may occur 5 to 30 times (or more) in an hour.
There is increasing evidence that OSA can result in systemic inflammation. Patients with OSA have a high prevalence of periodontal disease. A recent study showed that 60% of patients diagnosed with periodontitis had OSA. Since periodontitis is an inflammatory disease, OSA may increase the risk for periodontal disease by increasing inflammation in the body. Interestingly, treatment of OSA with CPAP improves levels of inflammatory markers. This is significant, considering atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease. OSA may be the link between atherosclerosis and periodontal disease that the dental community has been so interested in since the association between these two conditions was demonstrated.
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