6-Foot Tiger In 3-Foot Cage

by | Oct 19, 2012 | Blog, HMD Case Study, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Sleep Breathing Disorder | 0 comments

Tongue Position Predicts Sleep Apnea

Are you a tired mother? Dr. Felix has seen many tired mothers who complain about being over weight, having a foggy brain and fatigue issues. Follow this patient on her journey to heath with holistic mouth solutions.

Dr. Felix’s patient, let’s call her HPM is age 37. She is the mother of 5 adopted children ages 8 months to 18 years.
“I did lots of reading before making an appointment. This mouth-body connection makes sense to me. I know my mouth is the problem for my issues.,” said HPM. Her last visit to the dentist was for a cleaning 2 years ago. She had a clean dental checkup at that time.

Dr. Felix asked, “What are your top 3 wishes to Fairy Godmother to wave away with her Magic Wand? That’s 3 wishes about your medical and dental health, not career, fame, or fortune.” HPM’s wishes were to improve:

  • Her lower front teeth because they are becoming more crowded
  • Feeling tired all the time, including during the day
  • Her weight, she gained 85 pounds despite being on thyroid supplement
  • Brain fog
  • Infertility
  • Snoring

These are common features of oxygen deficit over many years from Sleep Breathing Disorder that ranges from snoring to Obstructive Sleep Apnea, a medial condition that is diagnosed with a sleep test.

Long before sleep apnea and Alzheimer’s diagnosis, there are symptoms like those above and short term memory issues, as in “What did I come into this room for?”

Objective signs includes tooth marks on the side of the tongue. A new study published in November 2011 shows tongue position predicts OSA. HPM’s tongue position confirms her risk for sleep apnea, which is common in Alzheimer’s. A sleep test is indicated in HPM’s case.

The tongue is the obstruction in the airway in OSA. Think of the tongue as a 6-foot tiger in a 3-foot cage. During sleep, when you lay on your back, the tongue has no place to go but the throat.

The body struggles when oxygen drops with the nose partially stuffed, and the tongue in throat. Survival Instinct kicks in and the brain orders the lower jaw and the tongue to “move up!”, which results in teeth grinding and tongue thrusting. Studies have shown teeth grinding and jaw clenching fragments sleep and contributes to fatigue. Tongue thrusting during sleep can worsen teeth crowding.

The “fight or flight” alarm goes off in the body when oxygen level drops. When survival is at stake, somethings give, and fertility is one of them, and memory is another. Weight goes up also because the body feels it is “under siege.”

HPM’s first consultation visit had one main purpose: to connect her whole body health issues with potential Holistic Mouth solutions. Because it’s hard for her to get time off, she chose to get her Records completed at the same visit. Her records can be viewed below:

Sure enough, Dr Felix reads her Cone Beam CT scan and finds that the scan shows HPM’s airway is less than 5 mm wide, when healthy-normal is 12 mm or more. Laying down will further reduce that 5 mm. That explains her oxygen deficit and multiple resulting symptoms.

A sure sign of neck and jaw pain is non-alignment of dental midline (green) and spinal midline (yellow). Note the width of her airway standing is less than half of ideal.

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