Health Risks of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Featuring Dr. Steve Lawson of the TMJ and Sleep Therapy Centre in Winnipeg, Canada
Dr. Steve Lawson, of the TMJ and Sleep Therapy Centre in Winnipeg, Canada says that the ramifications of not breathing effectively tremendously affect your endocrine system, which produces hormones and runs your metabolism, growth and development. Children with obstructive sleep apnea, for example, are not breathing properly at night and are often under-developed. Dr. Lawson says you don't secrete any growth hormones unless you're in a M3 level of sleep and continual respiratory disturbances are not letting them get to that level of sleep.
Dr. Lawson says that your systems don't function properly if you are not sleeping properly. You can have cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, to name a few. Dr. Lawson see patients whose lives are already compromised and have a significant quality of life issue.
From a dental perspective, once patients are diagnosed, dentists are limited to the jaw and airway. Dentists look at teeth as pillars that support the jaw joints and airway but there is a whole new dynamic that takes place when you go beyond looking at just the teeth. Dr. Lawson says that if you have undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea, it will affect every organ system in your body over time. It is an "all-embracing" problem and if dentists can do something about it with the proper training and tools, we can "absolutely change lives significantly," he adds.
Evaluation of a patient is no different if they're a CPAP (constant positive airway pressure) failure or not. Evaluation is about whether this person is a good candidate for what Dr. Lawson can offer. If a patient is not CPAP tolerant, an oral sleep appliance, along with other measures, such as avoiding alcohol and losing weight, is the next best option, he says.
Dr. Lawson notes that there are a lot of patients out there on CPAP that can be effectively treated with an oral appliance. There's no compromise to switching to an oral appliance as he objectively measures the results of the treatment with a level 3 sleep study.