Can Sleep Apnea Give Kids Gum Disease?

A new study published in Pediatric Pulmonology found that salivary biomarkers are significantly correlated with obstructive sleep apnea in children.

Here are the takeaways from this study, which used a small sample of 27 children with sleep apnea and seven healthy children.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea in children may cause increased production of salivary cortisol, which can increase the child’s susceptibility to periodontal disease. Researchers concluded that those children with mild and moderate-to-severe OSA had increased salivary cortisol production – a known factor in the growth of periodontal pathogen P. gingivalis.
  • As with adults, obstructive sleep apnea causes a disturbance in the body’s processes, increasing risk for other health problems.  Researchers found that obstructive sleep apnea in children was associated with a deregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis, which can affect such processes as stress response, digestion, and the immune system.

With this study, the dental team – already a big player in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea through oral sleep appliances – may have another reason to get involved with this growing medical problem.