Our body can go without food for about 1 to 2 months, and only 3 to 4 days without water. How long can we survive without breathing? Now imagine choking several times an hour, hundreds of times every night, over several years.
When did choking in our sleep became normal? Today more than 1 billion people suffer from drowning-like events in their sleep, and 85% of them are unaware of their condition.
Snoring is caused by a collapse in the airway that starves the brain of oxygen, and signals a desperate plea from our body. It can be a symptom of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which when left untreated, can lead to:
and even an early onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Other symptoms of OSA are:
teeth grinding and/or clenching
neck and back pain
venous pooling (dark circles under the eyes)
anxiety, among others.
No wonder the most exciting advancements in dentistry are airway-related, and how they can greatly improve your quality of life. Understanding the relationship of our mouth, teeth and airway to the rest of our body is the new frontier of dentistry.
Treatment for OSA has traditionally been the use of CPAP machines, surgery or mandibular advancement appliances, which treat the symptoms but not the root cause - and can worsen the condition over time.
Laser therapy is a great new option for many cases, offering a non-invasive, no device and anesthesia-free treatment with immediate results.
The good news is, today we can actually treat the root cause of OSA in children and adults with new devices and a multidisciplinary approach.
We are just starting to realize how our breathing affects our health, and what we can do to improve it. The COVID pandemic has just reinforced the need of a whole-body approach to dentistry.
Here’s to a longer and healthier life!
* Originally published on the Neighbours of Olde Oakville magazine - April 2021 (adapted for digital format)