While dentistry has traditionally been associated with cavities and gum disease, the oral cavity plays a very important role in sleep health. The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea with most of those cases undiagnosed. It is estimated that 40% of Americans over the age of 40 snore. While snoring has long been associated with obesity and is largely only considered a nuisance, that is no longer the accepted understanding. Snoring is caused by obstruction of the airway and one is not able to get enough oxygen to the brain, a very crucial function for brain health. When the airway is completely blocked for an extended period of time, it is called apnea.
Living with sleep apnea contributes to an inflammatory lifestyle. When a person does not get adequate and restful sleep, it sets in motion a series of inflammatory reactions in the body that are linked to other risks such as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and obesity. It is directly linked to certain headaches, teeth grinding, gastrointestinal problems, “fog brain,” depression, mood swings and overall decreased productivity.
There are three zones that are root causes of sleep apnea:
3. The nasopharyngeal region
Obstructions and limitations in any of these regions can limit the ability to get adequate oxygen to the lungs and brain during sleep. CPAP machines work by continuously forcing air into the lungs and have generally yielded moderate to poor results.
Ueno Center Dental Specialists have received advanced training to recognize and screen for possible contributing factors to poor sleep health including inadequate oral cavity space, tongue ties and other risk factors. We have also built a team of specialists including ENT’s, orthodontists and myofunctional specialists to screen and evaluate for sleep disorders to help your journey to better sleep health. Sleeping well is a very important key to aging well and living longer.