Breathing Matters at Dexter Dental
The Dexter Dental Studio multidisciplinary team of dental professionals, comprising an orofacial myofunctional therapist and a wide network of experts, ensures patients receive the best care for their needs. These airway detectives begin by taking a deep dive into a patient’s health history, assessing the function and structure of the airway and mouth to identify abnormalities. Then the oral-arterial specialist is able to run diagnostics for genetic predispositions to sleep disordered breathing (SDB), allowing patients to move toward preventing brain and cardiovascular disease.
People can go days without food or water, but only minutes without oxygen. Every cell in our body needs it to function. We breathe in and out an average of 22,000 times per day, and the lungs function involuntarily, so we typically don’t monitor how we are breathing, especially during sleep.
Our health, well-being and development depend on an open airway, nasal breathing and deep, restorative sleep. When our upper airway is compromised from mouth breathing, snoring or obstructions, it contributes to breathing difficulties during sleep such as SDB, which causes chronic, severe sleep deprivation, resulting in negative impacts on our health. SDB can occur at any age, regardless of medical history.
It is a result of the epigenetic (do not permanently alter DNA) effects of our modern lifestyles and environmental pollutants that force anatomical and biochemical alterations such as nasal breathing that becomes mouth breathing, leading to chronically inflamed airway structures that contribute to sleep disturbances from SDB, resulting in a heightened sympathetic nervous system (fight-or-flight), increased presence of stress hormones and a lack of growth hormones.
The increased level of inflammatory chemicals interrupts homeostasis, creating a state of distress and inhibiting regeneration. As our bodies reach their limits of how much inflammation they can handle, organ systems begin transforming in detrimental ways. Chronic health crises from dementia to cardiovascular events such as heart attacks and strokes develop. All of these are preventable diseases, and the way we breathe is a great place to start on the journey to better health.
We know that bouts of interrupted and/or irregular breathing during sleep increase blood pressure by restricting blood flow. This also depletes the body of critical nitric oxide (NO) gas, which serves as “food” for arteries and veins. Proper nasal breathing increases the availability of NO. Mouth breathing and SDB are counterproductive and lower these amounts. NO is a bronchodilator and transmitter for lung tissues.
In the brain, it regulates cerebral blood flow and is a key component for memory acquisition. People with SDB are down-regulating their production and supplies of NO, contributing to the demyelination (damage to the protective cover) of their brain cells. Some findings indicate that this process is a potential pathway for contribution to brain diseases like dementia. Less than six hours of regenerative sleep per night doubles the risk of heart attack/stroke. Susan Maples, DDS, says, “It should freak us out that an estimated 26 percent of Americans have OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) today, and only 4 percent have been diagnosed.”
Dexter Dental Studio has the unique ability to identify causative risk factors for both SBD and arterial diseases. Once identified, they work with patients and their care team to restore the proper function of airways and arteries in the hope it will lead to a lifetime of health and wellness.