Why National Orthodontic Health Month is More than Straight Teeth by Dr. Gabrielle Caron
10/08/2019The teamwork of dentists and orthodontists involves more than cleaning and moving teeth for an attractive smile (definitely a nice side effect)! The management of sleep apnea and airway development is just one example. Proper breathing is needed to get healthy, restorative sleep! Dr. Caron and Dr. Jones check patients for signs of airway obstructions and will recommend a sleep study and an orthodontic consultation.
Why should you visit a dentist or orthodontist for breathing issues? Dentists are becoming involved in the management of airway development and referring more patients to the orthodontist for help with breathing and opening airways. There is more and more evidence linking the mouth and jaws to airway functions and sleep apnea in children as young as 4 years old. Remember for new babies, the first dental visit is recommended by 12 months of age or within 6 months of the first tooth.
How does this relate to whole health? Airway obstruction impairs respiration, which can cause craniofacial malformation, malocclusion (a bad bite) and jaw deformation. These complications lead to chronic mouth breathing, sleep disorders, sleep apnea. Sleep-related breathing disorders are often associated with vascular complication such as arterial hypertension, coronary disease and stroke.
What can your dentist do to help? Dr. Caron and Dr. Jones will look to see how the palate, lower jaw, back of the throat appear, ensuring a clear airway without any obstruction. If an obstruction exists, a preventative examination with an orthodontist will be made to prevent further complications.
What symptoms should you look for? Loud snoring, grinding teeth, mouth breathing, restless sleep, headaches, waking up with a dry throat, sleepiness or depleted energy throughout the day.
October is National Orthodontic Health Month: Created by the American Association of Orthodontists, each October is the time to learn about orthodontic care and how moving and straightening teeth can improve appearance making maintenance more efficient. It’s a focused time when orthodontists and dentists inform patients on orthodontic care and its long-term dental health benefits.