As a practicing dentist I have always made it a priority to constantly learn. This has manifested in the form of constant continuing education to stay on the forefront of our field.
For the last few years I have started learning about how our oral structures play into our airway, and specifically how it affects us while we sleep. We’ve learned that quite simply more space within the mouth creates a better airway, which in turn, leads to a more restorative sleep. Healthy sleep is a huge proponent of overall health and is something that might get overlooked by both Physicians and Dentists.
So what can block our airway?? “Teeth, Tongues, and tonsils” quite simply. Teeth can crowd the mouth and tongue causing it fall back into the airway, while our other soft tissues (tongue and tonsils) can form an obstruction.
Clinically I have seen the benefits of creating more space as patients who have completed aligner therapy (orthodontics/invisalign) report a more restorative sleep as we have moved teeth into a better place, creating less crowding within the mouth. I have also worked with physicians with apnea patients to build Mandibular Advancement Devices (alternatives to the CPAP) which dramatically open the airway. The results these patient feel is truly amazing… And my staff and I enjoy the baked goods (usually cookies) from the spouses as the snoring stops…
Some of the signs that we might have possible airway obstructions are: Hypertension, Snoring, Significant tooth crowding (teeth overlap), and in some cases grinding our teeth at night.
We have also helped patients who have an apnea diagnosis if they are not able to tolerate the CPAP.
Oral health is critical to our overall health and wellness. This component of dentistry is truly improving our patients’ lives every day.