Hidden Health Risks: Sleep Apnea and Depression

A recent New York Times article highlights a connection between Sleep Apnea and Depression.  The article cites a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which found that adult men diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea are twice as likely to suffer from depression, and women are five times as likely as adults who do not exhibit this sleep disorder.

The study also showed that even those who did not have severe enough symptoms to be diagnosed with Sleep Apnea, but whose sleeping partners reported they snore, snort or stop breathing during sleep were still at a higher risk for depression.  Whether diagnosed or not, the higher the frequency of sleep disturbances, the greater the risk for depression.

Sleep Apnea is linked with depression (photo: cc Flicker)The study only highlights an association, not precise causes-and-effects, but there are several possible contributing factors. Those with Obstructive Sleep Apnea stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night, often for ten to twenty seconds or more.  These pauses in breathing cut off oxygen to the brain, not allowing all brain cells to function at full capacity and causing the person’s mental and physical health to suffer.  Also, OSA patients’ experience fragmented sleep, waking up often to begin breathing again, which can contribute to an imbalance in mental and emotional well-being.  OSA patients have disturbed sleep cycles preventing them from having adequate REM sleep.  If you have ever been sleep deprived, you will understand how never getting adequate sleep can wreak havoc with your health and well-being – just imagine being sleep deprived for months or years!

According to the Sleep Foundation:

The relationship between sleep and depressive illness is complex – depression may cause sleep problems and sleep problems may cause or contribute to depressive disorders. For some people, symptoms of depression occur before the onset of sleep problems. For others, sleep problems appear first. Sleep problems and depression may also share risk factors and biological features and the two conditions may respond to some of the same treatment strategies.

The good news is that treatment of Sleep Apnea has relieved and reversed major depression in European studies.  However, almost 50% of people who suffer from OSA go undiagnosed and untreated, increasing the related health risks and hidden dangers of Sleep Apnea.

At Designs for Dental Health, Dr. Nadler screens all patients for Obstructive Sleep Apnea and also makes custom sleep appliances to treat OSA by allowing patients to breathe more normally while sleeping.  If you have any questions about OSA or how dental sleep appliances can help in relieving symptoms and treating OSA, don’t hesitate to call our office at 908-359-6655.



Read the New York Times article

Learn more about the connection between sleep and depression on The Sleep Foundation’s website

Entertaining and Educational. A Puppet’s Explanation of TMD

TMD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction) occurs when the jaw is displaced or misaligned. If you regularly experience pain during basic facial movements like chewing, speaking and even smiling, you could have TMD. This is often referred to as TMJ.

A misalignment in the jaw joint affects the muscles, tendons and nerves of your back, neck and shoulders as well as your face, causing painful symptoms that can be felt throughout your entire body.

Dr. Nadler uses the TENS and K-7 units to determine what is occurring with your jaw’s alignment and muscles connected to the jaw. Once diagnosed, a proper orthotic appliance will be created for you to reposition the jaw to a comfortable position and to relax muscles which are in spasm.

The K-7 evaluation system assesses problems in the function and alignment of the jaw joint and bite.

The TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation) unit delivers tiny electrical impulses to the muscles responsible for jaw movement and relaxes them. In less than an hour the relaxed jaw finds its ideal positioning.

The next step is a full diagnosis of the problem with the K-7 evaluation system, which records proper alignment of the jaw. The K-7 can also assist in diagnosing if the patient’s jaw joint is damaged.

If the information gathered shows that the patient has improper jaw alignment, Dr. Nadler will recommend a course of therapy for correction.

If you suffer from any of the above symptoms and would like to schedule an appointment and exam, please call us at (908) 359-6655 or click here to request an appointment online.

Hidden Health Risks: Sleep Apnea and Cancer

Two recent studies have found an association, but not a causal relationship, between sleep apnea and cancer.  This study adds yet another health risk linked to sleep apnea, along with heart disease, diabetes, depression and gastro-esophageal reflux disease.

According to an article printed in the New York Times:

“In one of the new studies, researchers in Spain followed thousands of patients at sleep clinics and found that those with the most severe forms of sleep apnea had a 65 percent greater risk of developing cancer of any kind. The second study, of about 1,500 government workers in Wisconsin, showed that those with the most breathing abnormalities at night had five times the rate of dying from cancer as people without the sleep disorder. Both research teams only looked at cancer diagnoses and outcomes in general, without focusing on any specific type of cancer.”


Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder which affects an estimated 12-28 million Americans but often goes undiagnosed and untreated, increasing the risk of related health issues.  Those suffering from sleep apnea stop breathing during sleep for intervals of ten seconds or more, resulting in disturbances of the sleep cycle as well as oxygen deprivation to the brain.

It is this decrease in oxygen level that is thought to be a main factor in the link between sleep apnea and cancer.  The Spanish study, noted above, measured the relationship between oxygen deprivation and cancer, and found that the greater the oxygen deprivation during the night, the greater the instances of cancer during the period of the study.  Science News reports that those with the greatest levels of oxygen deprivation were “nearly nine times as likely to have died of cancer during the ensuing study years than were those with normal-oxygen blood.”

The fact that this widespread disorder goes undiagnosed and untreated so often is alarming.  Serious health risks that could be prevented and addressed if sleep apnea were diagnosed and treated are the result.  These latest studies linking sleep apnea and increased cancer risk adds to the urgency of education and awareness about sleep apnea.  As quoted in the New York Times, Dr. F. Javier Nieto, one of the authors of the U.S.-based study says, “I would say that this is one more instance that shows that sleep apnea can have profound impacts for people’s health,” he added. “Not breathing while you’re sleeping is a serious problem.”


New York Times Article

Science News Article


Want to Feel Great and Lose Some Weight?

Experiencing the “Clean” Nutritional Cleanse

As many of you know, I generally try to eat well and stay fit.  This habit is owed at least in part to my father, who was very careful to avoid red meat beginning in the 60’s (yes, the 1960’s) in an attempt to minimize his arthritic knee pain.  I inherited both his arthritic knees and his obsession with eating well and staying in shape.

So, since early this spring, my knees had been killing me.  And, the weight I had gained over the holidays did not come off so easily this year.  I just didn’t feel 100%.  It so happens that a dentist who is on an internet forum, which I read daily, mentioned a nutritional program that he tried and for which he had high praise.  So, I checked it out and followed the three week nutritional cleanse described in the book.

In short, the results for me were near amazing.  The first week was tough as almost everything that I normally ingested was forbidden.  I was tired, weak and hungry!

But, by the end of the third week, I had tremendous energy, felt wonderful and lost twelve pounds and a couple of inches off my gut!

The basic idea is to clean out all the bad stuff which had accumulated as a result of the foods and junk that I have been eating.  Then, after the initial three weeks, one-by-one reintroduce foods and so determine which ones make me feel “bad” and need to be permanently eliminated.

The name of the book which describes this program is Clean by Alejandro Junger, MD.

It is certainly worth a look as the number of people who have had success with this program is quite impressive as has my personal experience.  In the process of sticking to this regimen, you are forced to take a hard look at what you have been putting in your body and why.  For me, the big revelations were that we ingest simply because of habit and overdo because we think that if a little is good, more will be better…

My recommendation?  If you want to feel really good and could lose a few pounds, give this program a try.  Feel free to call me if I can be of any help.  You can reach me at the office at 908.359.6655 or via the new website at www.DesignsForDentalHealth.com.





Oral Health = A Healthy You!

Dental Cleanings Help Ensure Your Overall Health

Regular dental cleanings and examinations help ensure your overall health

We’ve posted about this before, but cannot over-stress the importance of the connection between your dental health and your general health.  No part of the body functions in isolation – everything is connected.  So it should come as no surprise that the health of your mouth affects the health of the rest of your body.  And, maintaining your oral health helps to preserve your overall health and well-being.

Beginning with the basics, proper brushing and flossing, in conjunction with regular dental cleanings and checkups, help to control the level of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Certain bacteria, if left unchecked, can cause cavities and periodontal disease and contribute to more serious health problems such as heart disease, stroke and clogged arteries.  The mouth is a gateway to the body, and bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel throughout the body triggering inflammation or infection. Dental examinations help to reveal some of these underlying health issues as dentists are trained to recognize the signs and symptoms which are displayed in the head, neck, mouth and throat.  Proper examinations are true oral medicine, and the best dentists are excellent diagnosticians – they love to figure out what’s going on and why.

Not only can your oral health affect the health of the rest of your body, but there are medical conditions that can affect your oral health.  For example, those with diabetes have a higher risk of developing infections.  Gum disease is a bacterial infection which can more easily get out of control in a diabetic patient, especially one whose blood sugar is not controlled.  Also, unbalanced hormone levels during pregnancy commonly result in gingivitis which, in turn, increases the risks of low-birth weight and premature births.

The oral-body connection is a two-way street. Oral health affects your overall health and wellness including the immune system, which helps to protect the health of your mouth, teeth, and gums.  Proper brushing and flossing along with professional cleanings and checkups preserves your healthy smile and is an integral part of your optimum health equation. Eating good foods, maintaining your weight, exercising regularly, and living a happy life are fundamental factors of the equation as well.  Prevention is key – all maladies are more easily healed when discovered early.  Living a healthy lifestyle becomes more popular every year among aging baby-boomers as well as vibrant 20-somethings.  All it takes is a little knowledge, a little discipline, and a little desire!

Click to read more about the link between oral and overall health and the benefits exercise can have on your oral health.