I thought I would talk about airway and its effect on our health, building on Bonnie’s previous blog post. I am referring to what the effect of an improperly working airway has on the teeth, jaw, associated soft tissues, and the rest of the body (that is connected to them). The question: How does not breathing well during the day result in the breakdown of our minds and bodies, causing a need for therapy?
It is not possible to go into great depth in a blog post about airway and sleep management, but I am hoping it may perk some interest and understanding that may lead to some earlier detection and prevention. It is my belief that it is better to look at prevention rather than waiting for the disease. For example, it would be better to detect the disease than to wait for the first heart attack or stroke. I will include a brief summary of content (that would in fact need far more information to achieve greater depth) on the subject.
Most people know that we sleep in cycles of 90-110 minutes during the night. These cycles are made up of non-REM sleep and REM sleep. Non-REM sleep is made up of 3 stages. During the third stage, deep sleep, we experience muscle recovery, hormone release, and increased short term memory storage. Therefore, in a simple summary, Non-REM sleep helps with the recovery of the body in the early stages of the night. REM sleep helps with healing and managing emotion, anxiety, depression, and pain management, essentially, the recovery of the mind.
In dentistry, we observe signs and symptoms (that may lead to a further discussion, curiosity, and questions with our patients as they indicate an airway or sleep management problem) such as the following:
- Increased inflammation
- Chronic stress
- T.M.J. issues
- Migraine and tension headaches
- Worn dentition (Bruxism and clenching)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Adrenal fatigue
- Anxiety disorders
- Increased incidence of hypertension
- Narrow upper jaw
- Retrognathic lower jaw
There are many tests to help detect and obtain greater clarity of what is going on. They include: polysomnography (current gold standard), home sleep tests, high resolution pulse ox, cardiopulmonary coupling, esophageal pressure monitoring, and nasal cannula pressure. All of these tests are helpful, but unfortunately, there does not exist one perfect test. They all have limitations which make detection and diagnosis that much more challenging.
If you are overwhelmed by all of these medical terms, you aren’t the only one! The importance lies with an understanding of the gravity of airway and sleep.
I will be going to attend a seminar in August, held by Spear Education and Dr. Jeff Rouse, to further understand this rapidly developing area of heath care. However, if you feel that you, or anyone in your family, would benefit from a discussion on this topic, please do not hesitate to begin the conversation with me.
Braeside Dental Centre