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Tips for Treating Airway Disorders

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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Another thing that we're learning is that there's different degrees of airway concerns.

So your typical TMD, young female patient that comes in saying, "I'm clenching and grinding. I'm waking up with headaches." Very often, if you make them an appliance that simply opens the vertical, they may find that it opens the airway enough to open the problem up to where they're not suffering from that anymore.

So we're beginning to work with, especially, the myTAP, which I can show you at another time, upper and lower appliances where we'll just put them in a neutral position. Meaning opening the vertical and having them sleep with that, maybe with taping, and see how they do. If that opens that slight airway impingement enough, they may feel terrific.

On the other hand, if that's not adequate, then we're going to take that same myTAP appliance and move their mandible forward in order to open the airway by horizontally moving the mandible out of the airway.

  1. So we can tape the mouth, get the patient nasal breathing.
  2. We can open the vertical and sometimes open the airway adequately for some patients.
  3. Or we can open the vertically and horizontally for those that are more severe.

So those are just some thoughts that you might think about as a quick tip for you in treating airway problems.

Dental Sleep Medicine

Dr. DeWitt “Witt” Wilkerson graduated from the University of Florida College of Dentistry in 1982, the same year he joined the Dawson private practice group in St. Petersburg, Florida. Witt is currently a Senior Faculty member and Director of Dental Medicine at The Dawson Academy. He is Past President of the American Equilibration Society(AES). Witt currently serves as President of the American Academy for Oral-Systemic Health(AAOSH), and is an Adjunct Professor in the Graduate Program at the University of Florida College of Dentistry. He has formerly served as an Associate Faculty Member and Special Lecturer at the L.D. Pankey Institute. Dr. Wilkerson lectures both nationally and internationally on the subjects of Restorative Dentistry, Dental Occlusion, TM Disorders, Airway/Dental Sleep Medicine, and Integrative Dental Medicine.