Dentistry and medicine have long been treated as completely separate things. But through recent decades, science has highlighted a growing number of ways in which oral and whole body health are intertwined. Here, we explore just a few of these oral/systemic links.
Solutions for Snoring & Sleep Apnea
The sound of it is the sound of air trying to get through an airway being blocked – sometimes by relaxed tissue around the top of the windpipe, sometimes by the tongue. In fact, tongue position in relation to the throat is a predictor of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – a condition in which you periodically stop breathing for 10 seconds or longer, with an oxygen drop of 4% or more.
For those with severe OSA, this can mean hundreds of stop-breathing episodes every single night! Each sends the body into crisis mode – RED ALERT! – as it struggles to get the oxygen it needs, especially for the brain.
OSA comes to bankrupt your whole body health through creating an oxygen deficit night after night for years. Meanwhile, blood pressure goes up, along with your risk of diabetes, heart disease, stroke, acid reflux/GERD, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, chronic pain, lowered immunity, and more.
Yet obstructive sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. All it takes is a simple sleep test for a physician to diagnose the condition, which increasingly can be done with a small portable testing unit in the comfort of your own home.
Often, the root cause of OSA is actually an underdeveloped upper airway resulting in what Dr. Felix calls an Impaired Mouth Structure. The mouth is simply too small to comfortably contain the tongue – a six-foot tiger in a three-foot cage – which easily winds up blocking the airway during sleep.
The good news? Your Impaired Mouth can be transformed into a Holistic Mouth, treating OSA’s root cause for good. There’s no need to be tethered to a CPAP machine every night. You’ll be able to sleep mask-free.
The key is a special oral appliance that stimulates stem cells in your mouth to regrow the upper airway to its full potential. All you need are enough healthy teeth stable in the supporting jawbone. Done in conjunction with nutritional improvements, myofunctional therapy, and other supports, the results of this Holistic Mouth Solution can be truly life-changing.
In cases where this approach isn’t possible, alternative oral appliance therapies are available to help keep your airway open without CPAP. Increasingly, these are considered first line therapies, even in moderate to severe OSA, and have proven as effective as CPAP in treating apnea.
Solutions for Teeth Grinding
Why would the body hurt itself in this way? The answer turns out to be survival.
Bruxing is an unconscious attempt by the body to open up your airway for more oxygen during sleep. Grinding on the front teeth brings the lower jaw and tongue forward, away from the throat – just as in CPR before mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
This makes it another early siren, warning of sleep apnea and the systemic health troubles it can fuel. In fact, bruxers are almost twice as likely to develop sleep apnea as non-grinders.
When bruxing is due to airway blockage, the ideal solution is to enlarge the airway, transforming an Impaired Mouth Structure to a Holistic one – one in which the jaws are fully developed so the tongue has room to sit comfortably in the mouth. Tooth prints or “scalloping” along the sides of the tongue is a common sign of an Impaired Mouth Structure.
Teeth grinding is not just a dental event. It’s a reflexive response to the larger issue of oxygen deficit during sleep. This deficit ultimately affects the whole body – heart, brain, and the rest. Sleep apnea means a higher risk of hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, acid reflux/GERD, depression, anxiety, cognitive decline, chronic pain, lowered immunity, and more.
The typical night guard usually prescribed for bruxing does little to treat the underlying disorder. But redeveloping the jaws can, along with ensuring nasal breathing and reducing tongue swelling with supports such as diet, exercise, acupuncture, and weight loss.
Solutions for Chronic Pain
Your jaws are part of a whole postural chain. Without a level head and balanced bite, optimal health just can’t happen. Pain and fatigue are inevitable. Such misalignment is another aspect of what Dr. Felix calls Impaired Mouth Syndrome.
A misaligned bite is a sign of skull distortion, and the impact that it has is quite varied. Research has shown that kids with bad bites don’t do as well in school and suffer more pain and ear/nose/throat infections. In adults, a bad bite can distort the C1/C2 vertebrae where the head joins the neck, triggering pain anywhere in the postural chain.
A weak chin, flat lips, and facial pain likewise stem from misaligned jaws. Crowded teeth come from undersized jaws and mouth breathing.
But such an Impaired Mouth can be transformed to a Holistic one so that head, bite, and spine are aligned, you can relieve pain and fatigue naturally. Full physical and spiritual health is associated with a fully developed and balanced facial skeleton, wide jaws, and straight teeth.
Through oral appliance therapy in conjunction with nutritional changes, myofunctional therapy, acupuncture, and other supports, whole body health can be regained and even optimized.
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