Role of an Oral Appliance in Alzheimer’s Disease

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Although many things can disturb sleep, one of the most common causes is snoring or other breathing issues that cause obstructive sleep apnea.

Researchers sought to understand the relationship between breathing rate during sleep and cognitive function, and how a snoring intervention affects brain health. The findings were published in the journal Geriatrics.

Their study included 18 individuals aged 55-85 with a history of snoring. About one-third of participants had mild cognitive impairment and another third had Alzheimer’s disease.

To examine how breathing rate relates to an individual’s cognitive function, participants slept at home while portable recorders collected data on their breathing rate, heart rate, and snoring. Clinicians assessed the participants’ memory, executive function, and attention.

They found that the maximum breathing rate during uninterrupted periods of sleep can differentiate healthy individuals from individuals with either Alzheimer’s disease or mild cognitive impairment.

“We saw three distinct patterns amongst the groups of people, meaning we can look for a breathing pattern that might predispose individuals to have dementia,” said Emet Schneiderman, Ph.D., a co-author on the study and Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University College of Dentistry.

Researchers also looked at whether the myTAP oral appliance, which snaps into the mouth at night to prevent snoring, affects breathing rate and cognitive function.

For four weeks, participants wore the device at night, and snoring decreased. After the intervention period, cognitive function no longer differed between healthy individuals and individuals with mild cognitive impairment.

This suggests better sleep improves cognition in individuals with mild cognitive impairment.

Though they did not notice an overall difference in the cognitive function of participants with Alzheimer’s disease, researchers are hopeful that the intervention could work. On the individual level, half of the participants with Alzheimer’s disease saw improvements in their cognitive function.

Alternatives to medicine for treating snoring, like dental appliances, could help individuals sleep better and improve their cognitive function.

Sleep medications give individuals the impression that they’ve slept well when in reality the brain never enters a deep phase of the sleep essential for the housekeeping process to rid the body of toxins.

Now it appears that alternative treatments, like this dental appliance, might produce meaningful changes in cognition before mild cognitive impairment progresses to Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Medindia

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