Snoring and sleep apnea

The Effects of Sleep Apnea

Airway obstruction and anatomic factors inside the mouth are leading causes to obstructive sleep apnea. We know with obstructive sleep apnea, there is a partial and complete blockage of the upper airway causing lapses in breathing during sleep. People with small airways, larger tongues, low soft palates (often the result of maxillary insufficiency), large uvulas, larger neck size and excess weight are more likely to develop sleep apnea due to potential blockage of the airway. Atypical swallow patterns or tongue thrusting also contributes to sleep apnea as these atypical patterns result in a loss of "exercise" for the muscles of the throat making them more likely to collapse. Sinus and nasal congestion also put people at risk as well as smoking as it increases airway inflammation and fluid retention.

Diet, exercise and smoking cessation are some ways to prevent many diseases, including sleep apnea. We can reduce our weight and quit smoking which will decrease neck size, decrease inflammation and fluid retention in the airway and reduce diabetic and cardiovascular risk factors.  However, even relatively healthy people are found to have sleep apnea.  What about them? And Is there anything more we can do?

     Myofunctional Therapy can assist with treating sleep apnea and the atypical swallow patterns that often co-occur.  Think of it like a physical therapy for your tongue, facial muscles and oropharynx to tone breathing, eating and swallowing muscles and open up the airway. Techniques include: unblocking nasal passages and learning to breathe correctly, proper resting positions of the tongue, body posture and re-training dysfunctional swallow patterns, strengthening, mobilizing and toning to aid in proper breathing.  Overall, studies report patients experience better sleep, less daytime sleepiness and headaches and improved cognitive and memory function and work performance.  Myofunctional therapy can be used with CPAP and appliance therapy for moderate to severe apnea.  If you are interested in learning more about how myofunctional therapy may help with sleep apnea contact us today for an individualized assessment.

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