Monday, August 26, 2013

Sleep Apnea And Our Diet-Cystal Lake Dentist

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

It is a condition where our airway is restricted or blocked  for 10 or more seconds to the point that we are aroused from our sleep in order to force our airway open. It is measured by a variety of statistics including , heart rate, chest and abdominal contortions, limb movement, snoring, brain wave activity, air flow, oxygen levels etc, in a sleep lab or with a take home monitor.

Why do Humans get Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

The human airway is unique in many ways. The ability to speak requires a special arrangement of the vocal cords, a large brain and very specialized tongue, and lip movements. This arrangement or the airway however, puts humans at risk of obstructed breathing. The tongue can fall back into the airway, the soft palate, tonsils and adenoids (if enlarged) can also clog the airway. Except for a few breeds of short faced dogs, Humans are the only species that snores.  If a human has a c old or allergies, these airway passages become swollen and clogged with mucus further decreasing the passage of air to the lungs. So in effect humans are "predisposed" for sleep related breathing obstructions we call Sleep Apnea.

What does diet have to do with Sleep Apnea?

There are two main reasons:


Our ancestors nursed their young much longer ans often for as long as 2 years. This nursing forced the infant to work harder to receive nutrition which helped develop the hard palate lip tongue muscles. This development enlarged the hard palate of the upper jaw making it larger. In addition our ancestors ate more raw foods, and they did not have many sharp utensils like knives, forks etc to cut food into nice little bite sized chunks. Their food had no refined starches, and sugars so they had to eat more to get energy. This eating exercise helped to continue developing the jaws as they had to tear the food with their teeth and chew much harder and longer to break it down. Our jaws and in particular our upper jaw fail to grow to their full potential. the net result is malocclusion (improper bite), impacted teeth (wisdom teeth etc.), speech problems, reverse swallows, plugged eustation tupes resulting in earaches, mouth breathing, enlarged tonsils, upper airway infections including sinus problems, allergies, swollen inflamed tonsils and adenoids, and the tongue forced to take a more rearward position in the throat pinching off the airway.


 Our "modern" diets are very high in calories  which leads to a larger frame and more weight. In addition, our "modern" lifestyle of convenience and fast food that tastes great  tends to cause obesity. Obese people have more fat deposits in their tongue, neck, and every other body tissue. These fatty tissues encroach on the airway when lying down further decrease the airway when sleeping.

Can't the Orthodontist help with the tooth crowding?

Your typical orthodontist has likely been trained in the style of Dr Begg. Dr Begg did some studies that had erroneous facts and came to the conclusion that the best way to correct tooth crowding was to take out bicuspids. His philosophy was to wait till about age 12 and take out bicuspids and then close the spaces.
This  made the teeth look straight but further forced the teeth back into the face leading to a dished in face and a tongue position even further back in the throat. In essence this treatment of the teeth can lead to TMJ symptoms and makes Sleep Apnea even worse.

What can be done?

Nursing infants  for up to 2 years is not impracticable for most mothers. In addition having the family resort to eating raw foods without modern utensils may not be possible as well for people living in cities and suburbs 9 (though today's grocery stores are full of healthy raw foods).

We recommend evaluating a child as early as possible and developing a program or interceptive orthodontic care. The goal is to help get the child's jaws "growing normally as early as possible" We take necessary records, and recommend a series of oral guides "that the child can easily wear to encourage proper growth and development of the face and jaws.  In addition, these appliances can reduce or eliminate the need for braces later on. The appliances lower the overall cost of orthodontic care by as much as 66 percent.

What are other health the advantages of these devices?

The use of these devices not only contributes to proper tooth placement, but can help eliminate several bad oral habits, improve behavior (reduce ADHD" by up to 50 percent) lessen earaches, and upper respiratory infections. They also  improve sleep and reduce or eliminate snoring, eliminate bed wetting, improve self image, improve performance in school. When the jaws develop fully, the tongue position is improved and the likelihood of obesity, diabetes, heart attach, stoke go down which adds 12 years to a person's life expectancy not to mention a better quality of life.

What do I do?

815 459 2202

Make an appointment today to have your child screened. The initial screening is free.  If your child shows signs of poor oral development, we would recommend taking the needed records to develop a customized course of interceptive treatment.

Call Today

815 459 2202

 Dr. Neal answers all of your questions about Intercepotive Orthodontics at Crystal Lake Dental Associates.

Your comments are welcome


  1. Great site! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also.
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  2. I had no idea that our diets had so much to do with sleep apnea. Everyone knows about poor dieting and diabetes or obesity but this is somewhat surprising. Specialists have now created various solutions for these common issues. I think you did a great job of showing 2 of the more common solutions and treatments.


About Me

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Born in the Midwest. Married with 6 children and 3 grandchildren. Attended Maine West High School, Harper Jr College, Northern Illinois University, the University of Illinois College of Dentistry. Practice in Crystal Lake, Illinois.