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Airway Dentistry & the Oral Systemic Connection

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At Main Street Dentists, we understand the critical importance of your airway to proper breathing and its effect on your overall quality of life. For this reason, we observe the American Dental Association guidelines and perform an airway screening on all of our patients.

Breathing through Your Nose is Key
As human beings, we are meant to breathe through our noses, not our mouths. Mouth breathing bypasses a person's normal physiologic filtration system through the nose. Breathing dirty air through the mouth can be a source of inflammation and infection in the posterior throat and tonsil area. It can result in swollen tonsils and difficulty breathing through both the nose and mouth, and it can induce problematic ventilation during sleep. In turn, it can lead to both upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) and, in more severe cases, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Allergies, a deviated septum, upper airway inflammation and infection, and deformation can all cause airway obstruction and difficulty in nasal breathing. Strong evidence shows that these obstructions can convert normal nasal breathing into mouth breathing.

Here are some signs and symptoms of an impaired airway:
  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Clenching both day and night
  • Chronically sore jaw and neck muscles
  • Joint clicking on either side
  • Bite relationship feels off
  • Teeth crowding
  • Slight wear on your front teeth
  • Chronic use of nasal decongestants
  • Mouth breathing
  • Snoring
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Nasal congestion
  • Forward head posture
  • Tongue-tie
  • Deviated septum
For children, specifically watch for:
  • Bed wetting
  • Restless sleep
  • Unusual sleep positions
Just what is the "oral systemic connection"? (Source: Mayo Clinic)
We know that the oral cavity is the intersection of medicine and dentistry and a window into the general health of a patient. Hundreds of diseases and medications impact the oral cavity. Current research confirms that conditions of the mouth have a profound systemic impact on the overall wellness of a patient.

What's the connection between oral health and your overall health?
Research has linked periodontal (gum) disease to systemic conditions including cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, pregnancy-related complications, osteoporosis, and kidney disease. A shared trait of periodontal disease and these medical conditions is that they are all chronic conditions that take a long time to develop and become clinically significant.

In addition, certain medications such as decongestants, antihistamines, painkillers, diuretics and antidepressants can reduce saliva flow. Saliva washes away food and neutralizes acids produced by bacteria in the mouth, helping to protect you from microbial invasion or overgrowth that might lead to disease. Certain diseases, such as diabetes and HIV/AIDS, can lower the body's resistance to infection, making oral health problems more severe.

What conditions may be linked to poor/compromised oral health?
Poor or compromised oral health may contribute to various diseases and conditions:
  • Endocarditis. Endocarditis is an infection of the inner lining of your heart (endocardium). Endocarditis typically occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of your body, such as your mouth, spread through your bloodstream and attach to damaged areas in your heart.
  • Cardiovascular disease. Current research suggests that heart disease, clogged arteries and stroke may be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.
  • Pregnancy and birth. Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight.

To protect your oral health, practice good oral hygiene every day
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day
  • Floss daily
  • Eat a healthy diet and limit between-meal snacks
  • Replace your toothbrush every three to four months or sooner if bristles are frayed
  • Schedule regular dental checkups and cleanings
  • Avoid tobacco use
At Main Street Dentists, we partner with a patient's family physician, primary care providers, and specialists to collaboratively address our patients' systemic health concerns.

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Doctors John and Kate SchacherlDrs. John and Kate Schacherl are general dentists who perform a wide variety of restorative and cosmetic procedures at Main Street Dentists, 105 North Main Street, Verona, WI. Some of the restorative and cosmetic procedures performed at Main Street Dentists include: Traditional Orthodontics, Candid Pro®, AIRFLOW® Technology, Orthodontics, ZOOM! Whitening, the Chao Pinhole® Surgical Technique, Dental Implants, CEREC One-Day Crowns, and Full-Mouth Restorations.

For more information, please contact us today or call us at 608-845-6127