What Happens When Enhancing Airway Health For Better Dentistry

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I recently attended an enlightening lecture titled “Airway Health and Its Benefits to Dentistry” at the annual New Mexico Dental Association meeting. This wasn’t my first encounter with this topic—it’s probably my fifth or sixth continuing education class on airway health and sleep-disordered breathing. However, each session offers new insights and reinforces the critical nature of this issue.

Sleep-disordered breathing, commonly referred to as sleep apnea, is a significant health concern in the United States and likely worldwide. This complex condition affects many aspects of our health and often goes hand-in-hand with mouth breathing. During the lecture, several key points stood out to me:

1. Mouth Breathing Complications:

Mouth breathing can lead to a multitude of oral health issues. These include:

  • Loss of muscle tone in the tongue, lips and face.
  • Dry mouth, bad breath and an increased risk of tooth decay.
  • Gingival inflammation and other periodontal problems.
  • Reduced oxygen supply to body tissues, leads to poorer circulation. This is because nose breathing produces nitric oxide, a crucial molecule for opening up blood vessels.
  • Nasal congestion and hypertrophic tonsils and adenoids further exacerbate breathing problems.

2. The Impact of Sleep Apnea:

Sleep Apnea’s ramifications extend beyond poor sleep and daytime fatigue. Here are some of the critical issues discussed:

  • Daytime Sleepiness and Dark Circles: These are often the first noticeable symptoms.
  • Hormonal Imbalances: Sleep apnea typically occurs during REM sleep, a crucial restorative phase. Interruptions here can lead to hormonal disruptions.
  • Cardiovascular Risks: A lack of oxygen during sleep can strain the heart, potentially leading to severe conditions like atrial fibrillation.

Seeking Help

The lecture underscored the importance of addressing these issues not just for better dental health, but for overall well-being. If you suspect you might be suffering from sleep-disordered breathing or any related issues, it is essential to seek help. Our team, led by our dentist, Dr. Jared French, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, is committed to assisting you, whether through direct treatment or by referring you to specialists who can provide the care you need. We welcome you to call 505-471-5353 to learn more.