The advantages of treating obstructive sleep apnea
with orofacial myofunctional therapy
B Y TIMBREY LIND, RDH, OMT, AND SHIRLEY GUTKOWSKI, RDH, BSDH, OMT
For example, both of Timbrey’s parents and her
sister suffer from sleep apnea. Besides the dark circles
under their eyes, their complaints of daytime sleepiness, and the constant loss of focus, they snore and
have been witnessed to stop breathing while
Let’s talk about what sleep apnea is and the different types there are, as well as how orofacial myofunctional therapy can help, before looking at more
WebMD provides a pretty good definition of sleep
apnea as “... a serious sleep disorder that occurs when
a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. Peo-
ple with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing re-
peatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of
times. This means the brain—and the rest of the
body—may not get enough oxygen.”
May not get enough oxygen? Isn’t that how comas
“I’d use my sleep apnea machine, but it comes with
a big mask that you have to put over your face, and
it’s not too sexy,” my patient said during his appointment. Do you know what my response was? “Snoring
isn’t so sexy either.” The American Sleep Apnea Association states that about 90 million people snore.
Not all suffer from obstructive sleep apnea.
We want to help people, and that’s what we do
each time we see a patient. We prevent oral cancer
by performing screenings and detecting tissue chang-
es at the earliest stages. We prevent heart attacks by
checking blood pressure on each patient. Can we
prevent a poor quality of life and even death by asking
a patient how they are sleeping at night? Some of us
do, and some of us don’t. We all should.
Sleep apnea is far more common than we think,
because most of the time it goes undiagnosed. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “more
than 18 million people have sleep apnea.” This figure
does not include pediatric sleep apnea. Sleep apnea
can affect a person at any age. In other words, it affects
anyone. In fact, we all know at least one person close
to us who suffers from sleep apnea. Maybe you even
have some sleep disrupted breathing (SDB) issues.
A lot of times this can be overlooked because not all
fit the classic description of overweight, high BMI,
and a neck circumference greater than 17 inches.