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Crooked Teeth and Other Culprits.

There is nothing like waking refreshed after a good night's sleep. For too many people, though, it does not happen enough--if at all. "Sleep is essential for survival and 70,000,000 Americans suffer from a sleep problem," says dentist Daniel Klauer, author of Achieve Your Victory: Solutions for TMD and Sleep Apnea.

The inability to log enough hours of shuteye each night is more than just an annoyance. Conditions that prevent or affect sleep can lead to a cascade of negative health consequences, cautions Klauer, whose dental practice makes sleep breathing disorders a focus.

"A sleep breathing disorder can cause someone to stop breathing, either partially or completely, when they're sleeping. That can result in daytime sleepiness or fatigue that often reduces quality of life and inability to function throughout the day."

The most common such disorder is obstructive sleep apnea, which can lead to other health problems, including chronic diseases, like diabetes, and even death. Klauer says he sees more men who have sleep-deprivation symptoms than women.

A number of factors can contribute to obstructive sleep apnea, including:

* Crooked teeth. They are an indication that your tongue does not have the space it needs inside the mouth. "When there's not enough room, the tongue can obstruct the airway," Klauer notes. Of course, even people with straight teeth can have obstructive breathing; it just is less likely for them.

* Improper jaw development. If the maxilla (upper jawbone) and mandible (lower jaw) are not fully developed forward and wide, the dimensions of your airway will be reduced.

* Swollen tonsils and adenoids. Both are lymphatic tissue that rest in the back of the throat and nasal cavity. If they become swollen, they take up space within the airway and cause breathing problems.

* Weight issues. Obesity causes increased fat deposition in the soft-tissue passages of the airway and decreased muscle tone. That makes it more difficult to breathe and increases the chances of an airway collapse at night.

Klauer indicates that the first line of treatment for patients with mild to moderate symptoms is a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) machine or Oral Appliance Therapy.

CPAP requires wearing a mask on your face at night that blows air through your nose to keep your airway from collapsing. Oral Appliance Therapy necessitates wearing a customized oral appliance that physiologically serves to prevent the collapse of the airway by stabilizing the lower jaw, tongue, and soft palate.

If these efforts do not work, surgical options may be necessary. Regardless, it is important to address the issue, not only because of the health concerns, but because of the importance of rest.

"The quality of sleep ultimately determines the quality of life. Sleep gives the body a chance to rest, recover, and rejuvenate. It is the body's way of filling the tank back up with gas."

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Title Annotation:SLEEP APNEA
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Oct 1, 2018
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