Let’s Talk About Sleep

Today let’s talk about sleep. The world is a totally different place when we sleep. When we don’t sleep or when we don’t get good quality sleep, it just seems like everything is a big deal or we seem fragile or cranky or we just don’t feel well. So one of the biggest fields of study in dentistry today is what I call the first marriage between medicine and dentistry. Which is the study of sleep disorder breathing? One form is obstructed sleep apnea. Signs of obstructed sleep apnea can be actually stopping breathing or gasping for breathe during sleeping or snoring can be a sign of obstructed sleep apnea. Obstructed sleep apnea is not just for heavy people. We have patients who have it who are tiny, who are marathon runners. So a lot of times its that someone may just have a small mouth or an enlarged tongue or just not enough space for their tongue and their tonsils and their uvula and all those structures in there, but all of those things can possibly lead to obstruction. Over time, obstruction or cessation of breathing if you actually have sleep apnea can lead to a whole host of um disorders in the body. I love this visual aid because it shows a lot of things that can happen as a result of sleep apnea. Such as stroke, much more likelihood of having a stroke or heart attack or high blood pressure or developing type two diabetes. So here at Couzens Dental we actually screen all of our patients including children for signs in the mouth that could contribute to obstruction so we that we can get our patients to the doctor to be tested. Upon testing, if it’s found that someone has obstructed sleep apnea there are many, many ways to take care of that or to treat the obstructed sleep apnea. Depending on the severity, that treatment could be a CPAP. Most people have heard of CPAP, but if someone has mild to moderate and they can’t tolerate the CPAP say they may feel claustrophobic or maybe they’re like I am who couldn’t deal with anything touching their face and try to sleep a full night. There are alternatives. One of the alternatives is this little device. This one is called a Herbst Appliance and what it does is it actually moves the lower jaw forward and when it moves the lower jaw forward it opens the airway so that um the obstruction is no longer there. This is a simulation of um someone’s head obviously. This simulates enlarged pharyngeal folds. This simulates an enlarged tongue. and if you can imagine the uvula hanging down here, this blue arrow simulates what CPAP therapy does. It actually works kind of like a balloon to blow those structures apart. The appliance I just showed actually moves the lower jaw forward and when it does so as you can see it opens up those structures. So we at Couzens Dental do screen all of our patients for obstruction and get them to the doctor if necessary.