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DENTAL SLEEP MEDICINE

Dental sleep medicine is an area of dental practice that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

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Dental Speep apparatus

Airway Diagram for Sleeping Disorder

THE AIRWAY

The Airway is the breathing passage through which oxygen enters your lungs. Air enters your body through your nose and mouth, travels through the your throat, windpipe and lungs.

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SNORING

According to the Mayo Clinic, snoring can be caused by a number of factors, such as the anatomy of your mouth and sinuses, alcohol consumption, allergies, a cold, and your weight.

When you doze off and progress from a light sleep to a deep sleep, the muscles in the roof of your mouth (soft palate), tongue and throat relax. The tissues in your throat can relax enough that they partially block your airway and vibrate.

The more narrowed your airway, the more forceful the airflow becomes. This increases tissue vibration, which causes your snoring to grow louder.

SLEEP APNEA

The Cleveland Clinic defines Sleep Apnea as a serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing many times during sleep, sometimes hundreds of times during the night.

OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (OSA)

The AADSM defines OSA, as a condition that can cause persons to stop breathing several times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute.  Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing soft tissue to collapse and block the airway.  As a result, repeated breathing pauses occur, which reduces oxygen levels.  The significantly reduced flow of oxygen to vital organs and heart problems can be life threatening.

SYMPTOMS OF OSA INCLUDE:

✅ Snoring

✅ Daytime sleepiness or fatigue

✅ Restlesness during sleep

✅ Sudden awakenings with a sensation of gasping/choking

✅ Dry mouth or sore throat upon awakening

✅ Trouble concentrating, forgetfulness or irritability

✅ Night sweats

✅ Sexual dysfunction

✅ Headaches

SYMPTOMS IN CHILDREN

✅ Poor school performance

✅ Sluggishness or sleepiness (often misinterpreted as laziness in the classroom)

✅ Daytime mouth-breathing and swallowing difficulty

✅ Inward movement of the ribcage when inhaling

✅ Unusual sleeping positions, such as sleeping on the hands and knees, or with neck hyperextended

✅ Excessive sweating at night

✅ Learning and behavioural disorders

✅ Bedwetting

(Symptoms suggested by Cleveland Clinic)

DIAGNOSIS

Polynosomnography (administered in a Dental Sleep Lab) or Home Sleep Study are two ways of determining what a person’s body is doing during the hours of sleep.  These tests are administered by a physician who specialises in Pulmonology or Sleep Medicine.  Sleep studies measure:

  1. brain waves
  2. blood oxygen levels
  3. any changes in diameter of the airway and/or airway closure
  4. length of time airway diameter decreases or closes
  5. skeletal muscle activity
  6. heart rate
  7. breathing rate
  8. and more…

TREATMENT/ MANAGEMENT

There are several options to manage snoring and airway issues including OSA:

  1.  Continuous Positive Air Pressure therapy involves wearing a face mask connected to  a machine that functions like a reverse vacuum cleaner.  It gently blows air through your nose and/ or mouth.
  2. Oral Appliance therapy uses a Mandibular Advancement Device to anchor the mandible in an anterior position to allow for greater oxygen flow.  The anteriorly positioned lower jaw holds the airway open
  3. Surgical options can range from soft to hard tissue surgery

Airway Diagram showing how the device helps you to sleep at night

DR LAWSON-MYERS, DDS, FAACP

Dr Lawson-Myers is a Fellow of the American Academy of Cranoiofacial Pain (AACP).

She is also a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. (AADSM)

Liguanea Family Dental is the only certified laboratory in Jamaica  fabricating Elastic Mandibular Advancement (EMA) appliances. The EMA is one brand of Mandibular Advancement Device that is designed to both advance the mandible and open the bite to allow for less restricted airflow during sleep.  It promotes deeper, more restful sleep by preventing snoring and relieving the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea.

Note the diagram on the left shows the airway closed off while the diagram on the right demonstrates how an Oral Appliance supports the Mandible in a forward position to allow the airway to be open for the free flow of oxygen to the body.

Dr Lawson-Myers works with Pulmonologists in the diagnosis and management of snoring, Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome and Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Call Us (876) 978-6103 for a consultation

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