One of the things that really keyed us into the fact that airway and breathing disorders are very significant is that we began to see some things from studies that were done overnight that showed that it's very common for patients that have, let's say, sleep apnea, to have an apneic event, and at the end of that event, to have a bruxism episode.
So as we move into the future of complete dentistry, we're going to be finding that we will be doing more and more integration of airway disorders into our treatment planning and even into solving occlusal problems.
So for example, when someone's evaluated and we are able to identify that they have a breathing disorder or an airway disorder, we recognize that part of their airway disorder may be that they're now a mouth breather. As a result of that, their tongue remains low in the floor of their mouth, and as a result of that, their maxillary arch is not developed and they have crowding of the maxillary and maybe the mandibular arches.
So I want to give you a few quick tips on treating airway disorders. We're learning so much about this. It's been incredible. But let me just share with you a couple of key things to think about.
Number one, a lot of patients come in that are snoring or feeling poorly during the daytime or may have mild sleep apnea that are mouth breathers.
Very, very common. So here's a quick tip. Put tape across their mouth and have them breathe through their nose at night. Just try that, even as you first begin to analyze their airway problem. And often, you'll find that people will come back and say, "I slept great. I felt better. I wasn't snoring." And we've found that even mild apnea may go away through, just, simple mouth taping.
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I want to share with you today a quick tip on selecting the proper splint. That's a very common question that we're asked frequently in our classes and with our students.
And let's try to break it down into options. So there's three basic designs of splints that we use most often.
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As our understanding of Dentistry’s role in whole health advances, we have increasingly meaningful conversations with our patients and community. One of my patients is a wonderful physical therapist, who is strongly committed to educating her patients about whole health subjects, including oral health. She has asked me to write several articles for her practice newsletter.
This month we discussed obstructive sleep apnea and systemic inflammation. Below is how we explain a complicated subject as simply as possible, communicating the role of the dental team in whole health.
Perhaps you have opportunities in your community, through your patients and medical colleagues, to get the word out, about Complete Dentistry from TMJ to smile design, and from sleep apnea to systemic inflammation!
You can really get involved in the broader spectrum of dentistry, taking the concepts that we’ve learned at The Dawson Academy and expanding those into the whole body.
Today we have so many great things happening in the medical field. As you look here at the titles of books being written, you’ll notice each one of them are written by an M.D.
Supercentenarian Jeanne Calment from Aries, France, was born in 1875 and died in 1997, at the age of 122 years. When asked the secret to her record longevity, she answered, “Always keep your smile. That’s how I explain my long life.”
Though Ms. Calment may have been referring to a positive attitude, her words inadvertently had a scientific basis, related to oral health. Always keep your smile; meaning always keep your teeth and keep them healthy and free of disease. This will allow you to prolong your health and longevity.
Introducing patients to the concept of dental occlusion and complete care can, at first, seem like a daunting task to many. Dr. DeWitt Wilkerson discusses the following points essential to explaining dental occlusion and complete care to patients in the video below:
- What is a physician of the masticatory system?
- What is the role of a dentist?
- How do you educate your patients?
- What tools can you use to demonstrate occlusal problems to your patients?
One thing that becomes quickly apparent, when seeing many patients with unusual and difficult histories, is how often we must make decisions, based on scientifically based logic, when textbook answers are not available for each and every situation.
I had an interesting case in point a couple of weeks ago. A patient I restored last year, due to severe anterior wear, called asking us to see her 19 year old daughter. She was experiencing sore muscles, left side TMJoint clicking, and facial pain each morning upon waking. She was also suffering from headaches 2-3 times a week.