How Common Is Gum Disease in Sleep Apnea Sufferers?A recent study from Korea looked at the potential link between sleep apnea and gum disease. They gave 687 participants (67% men) a polysomnography to measure the extent of sleep apnea the person had, periodontal exams, and general health screenings. The study defined periodontal disease as being clinical attachment loss (receding gums) of 6 mm (¼ inch) or more and a probing depth of about 4 mm. This corresponds to a moderate to severe level of gum disease. According to this definition, about 18% of the study population had gum disease. For comparison, the estimated rate of moderate or severe gum disease is about 38% in the US. In the study, about 46.6% of the participants had obstructive sleep apnea, which they defined as being an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI, the number of times a person’s breathing stops in an hour) of five or more, which is mild sleep apnea. Of those with gum disease, 60% had sleep apnea. Statistical analysis confirmed that sleep apnea was associated with gum disease, essentially doubling the risk. They also found that the more severe the sleep apnea, the more severe the gum disease: pocket depth and gum attachment were both proportional to AHI.