CBCT's can be helpful not only for evaluating the temporomandibular joints and looking at the cortex and integrity of the bone and joint spacing, but also for airway.
The question comes up, what does airway have to do with TMD or what does TMD have to with airway problems? And the answer is sometimes there's very little overlap, sometimes there's quite a bit of overlap, and sometimes there's total overlap.
So I think that my patient hay have an airway disorder. Where do I start? What are the first steps that need to happen in order to diagnosis and treat this?
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 one of the big issues and changes in dentistry now is airway and how do we deal with it with our complete concept of dentistry. So one of the things we have to do now as part of the complete exam is we have to add an airway screening into our examination. We've actually already done this in our protocols at The Dawson Academy.
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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