Did you know millions of people suffer from snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? It is estimated that at least 75% of the population suffer from these problems. Obstructive sleep apnea not only causes fatigue and severe daytime drowsiness, but many other problems such as poor memory, clouded intellect, personality changes, irritability, decreased sex drive, impotence, morning headaches and many health problems. Obstructive sleep apnea contributes to cardiovascular disease, as well as conditions such as hypertension, stroke, heart attacks and heart disease.
Many studies show that those with OSA have a 15% higher rate for health problems as well as a 15% higher mortality rate. Those with OSA are three times more likely to be in a car accident.
Snoring and Obstructive sleep apnea not only affects health and quality of life, but also severely affects a spouse or significant other’s life. Many studies show that spouses slept an additional 62 minutes and their quality of life increased significantly after their partner was treated.
What causes snoring and OSA? During normal sleep we breathe air in through our mouth and nose into our airway. If the muscles of the tongue and palate fall back into the airway, they can constrict the airway or completely close it off. When constricted the air causes the muscles to vibrate, thus causing snoring. When the airway is completely closed off, this causes an apnea event to occur (stop breathing) which causes your brain to awake you to start breathing again. Thus someone’s quality of sleep is greatly affected by these continuous awakenings or arousals throughout the night.
The first and most effective treatment for OSA is a CPAP machine. Unfortunately many people cannot tolerate wearing their CPAP and end up doing nothing to help their condition. Oral appliance therapy is an alternative to CPAP. An oral appliance is a small plastic device that fits over the teeth, just like an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard. The appliance is worn in the mouth during sleep to prevent the soft tissue of the throat from collapsing and obstructing the airway. Oral appliances work by slightly advancing the lower jaw which in turn moves the base of the tongue forward and opens the airway to allow improved breathing and reduced snoring and apneas during sleep.
Dating back to the Neolithic Period, humans once believed the stabbing pain of a toothache was caused by a “tooth worm” that either appeared spontaneously or bored its way into the tooth. If the tooth pain was severe, it meant the worm was wriggling; if the aching stopped, the worm was resting.
Cultures across the world held stubbornly to this myth. In fact, folklore of the tooth worm persisted from at least 5000 BC to the beginning of the 18th Century. Here are two of our favorite prescribed remedies for the infamous tooth worm:
Perhaps foreshadowing future greatness, Greeks of the Archaic Period (8th to 6th centuries BC) made a fairly astute association but missed the connection. They used donkey milk as a mouthwash to strengthen the gums and teeth. However, the ancient Greeks then took a step in the wrong direction and applied a frog to the cheek or head on the side of the toothache to absorb the pain. Ultimately taking a turn for the worse, they would also spit into the frog’s mouth, hoping to transfer the pain to the unfortunate amphibian.
The Middle Ages
A millennium later, ironically, people of the Middle Ages actually used honey to coat an infected tooth. Believing the tooth worm shared their sweet cravings, people smeared aching teeth with honey and waited all night in vain, tweezers in hand, ready to snatch the tooth worm. And, apparently, those with a more pungent disposition applied a raw onion to the sore side of their face. Any way you slice it, successful courtship in the Middle Ages must have been a massive achievement!
21st Century Dentistry
Fortunately, modern dentistry made colossal strides since the Middle Ages. And preventing tooth decay is now easier and more convenient than ever. Equipped with the latest technologies and treatment plans, you can rest assured you won’t find yourself with a frog on your face . . . unless that’s your thing.
Call our office today to make an appointment before the dreaded tooth worm attacks and you find yourself rummaging through a swamp in search of wishful relief.