Many people don’t realise that a lot of tooth grinding and orthodontic crowding may be due to blocked or constricted airways, especially during sleep. If you snore, wake-up tired or with your facial and neck muscles tense, have sensitive ground-down teeth, or bleeding red gums, then there is a possibility that your airways may be compromised during sleep.
Having a good open upper airway and being able to breathe freely through your nose with your mouth closed is extremely important for general good health and the development of a well formed, straight set of teeth. We constantly monitor young patients’ bites and airways and use orthopaedic plates to assist good arch growth and may use a specialist ENT doctor to assess developing airways, including tonsils and adenoids.
Restricted upper airways will have a negative effect on the growth and development of the face and jaws. Most of the face and skull develop before puberty, so we need to address any problem early if the kids are to grow up with healthy functioning airways and beautiful faces.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Adults that have had chronic constricted airways as children often develop sleep disorders and possibly Obstructive Sleep Apnea. If you wake always feeling tired, have sore facial muscles or have a headache or your partner says you snore, sound like you stop breathing or are gasping for breath then it is probable you have severe sleep disordered breathing or OSA. Studies have shown that possibly 80% of the adult population have some form of airways constricted breathing.
Unfortunately, OSA is often unrecognized, under-diagnosed and poorly managed. It is an insidious and treacherous pandemic killer linked to craniofacial causes. It is life threatening due to repetitive pauses in breathing and is a major cause of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and metabolic diseases, thus leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, impotence and predisposing to diabetes and other systemic diseases.
Patients usually develop a forward head posture during the day in order to open their airways. This leads to severe dental problems like tooth crowding, periodontal disease (bleeding gums) and TMJ, TMD or jaw joint pain. This in itself can cause constant headaches or migraine.
We may refer you for a sleep study or an ENT assessment. A cone beam radiograph will assist us with identifying any airways issues. Often obstructive sleep apnea, OSA, can be due to a collapsed lower jaw at night. We may use a dental plate (Somnomed) to hold the jaw forward and open the airway. This may be in combination with a Cpap machine if you already use one. A jaw posturing appliance may replace your Cpap, or at least will reduce the air pressure required to oxygenate your lungs.
Usually patients with OSA or snorers have bite problems. Dr Cameron Dodd, having trained with the Las Vegas Institute for Advanced Dental Studies, and using his knowledge of neuromuscular dental protocol will be able to assess your airway and advise a treatment solution. Dr Dodd has also studied with Dr Steve Olmos who is an expert in TMD/airways issues. For 18 years his practice has been restricted to treating TMD, orofacial pain and sleep disordered breathing. He lectures worldwide and is a world leader in his field. If you suspect you may have sleep disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnea, then it is important you pursue some treatment, as the health risks are potentially very serious.
lILLI Pilli Dental practice 487 Port Hacking Road Caringbah South NSW 2229