Sleep Disordered Breathing

Sleep disordered breathing is a very prevalent condition where your body tries to accumulate as much air while sleeping as it is able yet comes up short. Coming up short might happen for many reasons. There is a threshold in which the body will start to struggle if not enough air is taken in during those sleep times.

Sleep disordered breathing signs and symptoms have a wide range of clues. Let’s start with breathing sounds and what causes them. These sounds are generated by air turbulence through the nose as the air finds resistance due to the proximity of the anatomy. Simply, the airway is too small. The sound might emanate from the nose, the back of the throat or even deeper as the channel narrows. A resistance is formed by the anatomy and the turbulence of the air being drawn into the nose or mouth, causing a rubbing sound. Sometimes, these sounds are very noisy, but most of the time, the sounds are very subtle. We all know that those loud sounds are called snoring. The lesson here is that you do not have to snore to have a problem. While there is no health impact on some, there are hidden health impacts that do show up over time due to the small malfunction of blocked anatomy or overstressing your body to compensate for what the body is not getting on a regular basis.

The lack of air over time creates problems that eventually show up as other signs or symptoms of sleep disordered breathing. Some of those signs might be a simple sign, such as mouth breathing. Mouth breathing versus nose breathing is significant as the nose plays a vital role in getting filtered, humidified oxygen to the lungs. Another role the nose plays is the production of nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide (NO) is very significant as NO calms the nervous system. Nose breathing and nitric oxide are instrumental in the body’s defense against stress. The nitric oxide helps open the airways, and the body gets higher concentrations of oxygen to the brain and tissues of the body. The cardiovascular system is vital to survival and relies on nitric oxide. Nitric oxide works by signaling the vessels of the cardiovascular system to relax and expand. The relaxing and expanding done by the vessels creates a highway free of obstruction that allows greater nutrient delivery and oxygenation to every system of the body. This also leads to a healthy blood pressure. The cells of the circulatory system and the heart depend on nitric oxide. Nasal breathing is vitally important. Nasal breathing supports healthy blood pressure levels, increases circulation throughout the body and dilates the arteries for normal healthy blood flow.

It has been shown that nasal breathing reduces pulmonary vascular resistance and improves arterial oxygenation compared with oral breathing (mouth breathing) in subjects without lung disease.

Our office works with a great interdisciplinary team, including orthodontists, oral maxillofacial surgeons, and ear, nose and throat physicians, to help each patient work through some of the anatomical blocks that lead to mouth breathing. We also work with speech pathologists since this is especially important in children and needs to be caught and intervened during their growth phase to make sure they grow and develop without any impedance due to poor air intake.

Briargate Advanced Family Dental has stayed up to date with the most current diagnostic modalities, such as cone beam tomography (or CBCT), cardiopulmonary coupling, high resolution pulse oximeter, etc.

The CBCT is an invaluable tool to literally see inside the head. Is your nose crooked? Is your palate too narrow? Does the lower jaw sit too far back, pushing the tongue into the airway? The CBCT reveals a wealth of knowledge about the anatomy of one’s head and neck.

Diagnostic parameters, such as cardiopulmonary coupling, may be a great aid to breaking down the sleep disordered breathing to what is called the autonomic nervous system, which is divided into the parasympathetic and sympathetic fibers. The autonomic nervous system regulates breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, etc., which are all involuntary physiological processes.

While cardiopulmonary coupling is not a home sleep test, it is a revolutionary technology that measures the parasympathetic and sympathetic systems, giving a resultant measurement of high and low amplitude signaling, showing very clearly on the spectrogram that is produced when and where those parasympathetic/sympathetic fibers are working. The results are simply astonishing.

Another piece is what do we put into our bodies to keep them primed and healthy. How does vitamin D3 affect the body, and what does it have to do with sleep?

Really, it is not what you have but how you are able to put it together to get a result that will be life changing.

Let’s ask some questions. What do you think would be the difference if that 20-year-old female athlete had her deviated nasal septum fixed and only afterwards realized better workouts and performance?

What about that 25-year-old who cannot ever get her breath only to realize after a simple surgery she is able to really know what breathing and getting your breath feels like?

How about the 10-year-old boy who presents with a tongue tied down and with shiners under his eyes thinking they were normal as both his parents also showed the same shiners under the eyes? Further inquiry led to a very provocative history of poor socialization, bed wetting and a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactive disorder, or ADHD. Who knew that simply helping him grow cranio-facially could get him back to a normal life?

What about the 34-year-old female with body pain everywhere and is complaining of TMJ soreness and clenching and grinding her teeth all the time? After testing, the CPC showed no parasympathetic tone. You need parasympathetic tone for the body to clean up the lactic acid and amyloid proteins in the brain during phases of sleep the body creates from working all day. When they are not removed from the system, they pile up, and of course, problems arise.

“Researchers are reporting new evidence that sleep apnea — a common disorder that can cause people to snore frequently during sleep — may increase the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. A team of scientists studied 208 men and women aged 55 to 90, most of whom had sleep apnea but did not have any type of diagnosed dementia. After two years, the scientists found that those who suffered from more severe sleep apnea had certain chemical markers in their spinal fluid indicating increased levels of beta amyloid, a type of brain plaque associated with Alzheimer’s. In addition, brain imaging scans in some of the more severe apnea patients confirmed an increase in amyloid plaque.”1

Anyone might see why Briargate Advanced Family Dental sees sleep disordered breathing as a need to screen, as sleep disordered breathing is very prevalent for many reasons in our society.

Please contact our office at 719-475-2511 to learn more about treatments for sleep disordered breathing and schedule a consultation with Dr. Peter McIntyre, our experienced dentist in Colorado Springs, Colorado.