As a dentist in Chicago, we focus on keeping our patients in excellent oral health and part of that process is understanding how the entire body works together. Oral health, as with the health of any part of your body, is not isolated. This is why something like gum disease can impact your gums, teeth and even your heart. Even your breathing connects to your oral health.
The importance of sleep
In Sleep Interrupted by Steven Y. Park, M.D there is discussion around the negative side effects of breathing through your mouth. While it may seem natural to switch between the mouth and nose breathing, there are distinct health advantages to breathing through your nose. The first of these is that you will receive more oxygen. Nitric oxide helps the body to receive more oxygen. When you breathe through your nose, you create small amounts of this gas that helps your lungs to absorb oxygen. As a result, you will receive 10 to 25 percent more oxygen and have more energy.
As a dentist in Chicago, I frequently work with patients that do not get enough oxygen while they sleep due to obstructive sleep apnea. This condition is generally caused by the lower jaw and tongue falling backward and blocking the airway. This condition can lead people to feel so incredibly fatigued that they cannot stay up past dinner, fall asleep when doing activities like watching television or working on the computer, etc. I treat this condition using a non-invasive, removable oral appliance.
The results are consistent and dramatic as patients begin to breathe freely at night and wake up feeling refreshed for the first time in months or years. Through these treatments, I witness firsthand the importance of getting the right amount of oxygen. This makes the studies on nose breathing even more interesting because if you could change how you are breathing, you could start to feel more energized than you have in years and begin to enjoy life more thoroughly.
Treating other health issues
Simultaneously, this makes it important to treat any problems that you have with your nose right away. If you have a sinus infection or too much mucus, it needs treatment with a visit to your primary care doctor. Clearing the mucus can help you to breathe through your nose during the day and improve your breathing at night.
While obstructive sleep apnea is typically a result of the tongue blocking the airways, it worsens from a plugged up nose. In this case, wearing a removable oral appliance while sleeping becomes even more important.
As a dentist, I can examine you and suggest steps for an at-home sleep study to determine if you have obstructive sleep apnea. If you do, we will make an impression of your mouth and take measurements. This information will then be sent to the dental lab for your oral appliance to be created. It will fit perfectly so that you can sleep without it moving out of place or causing you any discomfort. This, combined with treating any sinus problems that you have, can help you to get more oxygen while sleeping. Breathing through your nose during the day will further improve your oxygen levels, making it possible to have the energy you need to enjoy more strenuous activities.
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