Sickle Cell Day and TMD

World Sickle Cell Awareness Day was June 19th, which got me to thinking about the connection it might have with TMD. On June 19th the health community took a stand to increase public knowledge and raise awareness of Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) and the struggles sufferers and their families go through.

SCD affects millions of people around the world, including both adults and children. It is a potentially fatal disease and, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), is one of the main causes of premature death amongst children under the age of five in various African countries.

So, with Sickle Cell Day fresh in our minds, let’s take a look at TMD and how that might hinder a person’s health when suffering from Sickle Cell.

Sickle Cell and TMD

Sickle cell disease is a congenital blood disorder. The abnormal hemoglobin causes microinfarcts that lead to multi-organ alterations, including dental involvement. The entire oral and maxillofacial region may be involved, affecting the teeth, multiple oral structures, and maxillofacial bones. SCD patients are commonly affected by bone and joint complications, including the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).

Patients complaining of chronic pain can often experience pain in the orofacial region, especially in the area of the TMJ. With complications in chewing and talking, sickle cell can often be exhibited for those suffering from TMD. For this reason it is important to undergo a series of testing for your patients to determine if the cause of pain is purely sickle cell disease, or if it can be treated due to it being TMD.

Oral Appliance Therapy for TMD Relief

Oral appliance therapy is an extremely helpful and successful technique in treating TMD. These devices are extremely popular among TMD patients due to the simplicity and comfort of the appliance. People describe the appliance as being similar to a retainer for orthodontic treatments, which helps patients feel more comfortable with treatment. These appliances are made to fit a patient’s mouth and their mouth only.
By utilizing this as a treatment option for TMD, we hope that this, too, will help in finding relief for some cases of sickle cell disease. And, while studies continue to be conducted on this area, it is important to pay close attention to your patients’ symptoms.

Men’s Health and Sleep Apnea

Each June is celebrated as men’s health month. And, while June is flying by, we can continue to raise awareness for men’s health throughout the year, too.  Celebrated across the country, Men’s Health Month provides screenings, health fairs, media appearances, and other health education and outreach activities. Why? To help raise awareness for men and their health conditions.

I know you are probably wondering, where do we fit in as dental sleep specialists? It’s simple; Men have an increased risk of developing sleep apnea. Let’s take a closer look:

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) vs Central Sleep Apnea (CSA)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is caused by obstructed breathing, either due to too much tissue as seen in obesity or decreased muscle tone which may be seen with low testosterone. This inhibits the airflow in the mouth and nose which causes snoring and decreased ability for adequate oxygenation during sleep. As a result, men often wake up numerous times during the night and rarely achieve deep sleep.

Central Sleep Apnea (CSA) is a central nervous system disorder in which the brain signal for breathing is delayed. It is often caused by injury or disease affecting the brain stem. However,  most cases of sleep apnea caused by low testosterone is considered to be OSA. Additionally, OSA may primarily be considered a “man’s disease”, but it poses serious and even life-threatening health risks for women who suffer from it, too.

Undiagnosed Sleep Apnea and Depression

According to research, men with sleep apnea appear to have a higher risk of depression. Men with undiagnosed sleep apnea had more than double the risk of depression compared to those without sleep apnea, said study researcher Carol Lang at the University of Adelaide in Australia.  And, according to Lang, men who had both undiagnosed, severe sleep apnea and excessive daytime sleepiness, had an even greater risk of depression. It was shown that their risk of depression was up to five times greater than normal.  With that being said, it is key that we provide the services necessary for providing men with the diagnosis and treatment they need to overcome sleep apnea.

Emphasize Treatment

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to heighten the awareness of preventable health problems while encouraging early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. This month, and every month after, we should be providing our patients with the resources they need to make educated decisions about their health, which means proper screening for sleep apnea.
By catching sleep apnea early, and providing proper treatment options, we can continue to provide our patients with the care they need to remain healthy while also getting the rest they need or have been missing out on for so long.

Be on the Lookout for These Upcoming Lectures!

When we were kids we looked forward to summer break so we could hangout with our friends, enjoy the weather and go on vacation. I know, that was my favorite, too. However, as we grow up we often lose out on those set summer vacations with a break from learning in school. But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing at all! We can still enjoy our summers while also working and learning at the same time!

To help you provide your patients with the best care possible it is important to attend seminars and lectures for continuing education, which can also be a little vacation when these classes take place out of town! Here are some upcoming lectures you can look forward to for a little extra vacation and learning in 2016:

July 15-16, 2016

Topic: Pain & Sleep Symposium

Location: Atlanta, GA

Interested in growing your dental practice in the area of sleep apnea, TMD and craniofacial pain by working with the medical community? Then this Pain & Sleep Symposium is just what you are looking for!

July 29, 2016

Topic: Pharmacology, AACP

Location: Austin,TX

In this session I will perform a detailed review of pharmacological principles for patients with temporomandibular disorder to further help you in diagnosis and treatment.

July 30, 2016

Topic: Identifying SDB in your practice. July 30th 2016, AACP

Location: Austin,TX

On day two I will help in identifying sleep disordered breathing in your practice. Have you ever wondered about lateral tongue scalloping, cervical non-carious lesions, vaulted palate among other areas while performing your patients’ dental examinations? You may not realize it yet, but there are many signs and symptoms you might be noticing while your patient is in the dental chair that may contribute to bigger problems. By understanding clinical findings, you can help reduce your patients’ risks for systemic diseases such as stroke, hypertension and more. Let’s journey through and understand what you can do for your patients.

Upon completion of this presentation, attendees will be able to understand and identify Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB); understand the risks of not treating SDB; identify the signs that suggest the likelihood of SDB; and take the next steps when SDB is detected.

September 9-10, 2016

Topic: Advancing your Dental Sleep Medicine Practice

Location: Houston, TX

Many dentists have taken several dental sleep medicine courses but find themselves struggling to make sleep apnea treatment a profitable service in their dental practice.Tailored to the dental practice that has begun treating obstructive sleep apnea, this course will help take your dental sleep medicine practice to the next level.

September 23-24, 2016

Topic: ABC – Airway, Bruxism & Craniofacial Pain

Location: Chicago, IL

Did you know there is a link between sleep apnea, bruxism, and craniofacial pain? It is becoming increasingly clear that dentists involved in either sleep apnea, TMJ pain, or bruxism treatment should be knowledgeable in all three areas. Learn how to assess your patients, prioritize, and fabricate a treatment plan that provides the best results for these three conditions.

Take a break from the office and join me for one of my upcoming lectures! It will get you out of the office into a new location to not only gain a better understanding of dental sleep medicine or craniofacial pain, but meet other dentists struggling with the same issues and enjoy the new scenery! You can view other lectures here.

Aphasia, Stroke and Sleep Apnea

The month of June was set aside as National Aphasia Awareness Month, which means making sure your patients are staying on top of their health by treating sleep apnea and other symptoms in prevention of stroke. As you are aware, stroke is the number five cause of death and the leading cause of disability in the United States. A stroke can have a variety of communication effects, one of which is aphasia. Stroke is the most common cause of aphasia, which is a language disorder that affects the ability to communicate.

Raise Awareness for Aphasia

With June at an end, we can still continue to raise awareness for both stroke and aphasia. June was set as National Aphasia Awareness Month to help increase public education around this language disorder and to recognize the numerous people who are currently living with or caring for people with aphasia. The American Heart Association/American Stroke Association continues to increase awareness for aphasia by sharing communication tips, the effects of having aphasia, assistive devices for those with aphasia and more.

A Connection with Sleep Apnea

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women. But what you may not realize is that sleep apnea can lead to heart attacks, which can cause people to die in the middle of the night due to low oxygen or the stress of waking up frequently during sleep.

As stated previously, heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, while stroke takes fourth place for the cause of death and leading cause of disability with high blood pressure being a major risk in both conditions. The relationship between sleep apnea, hypertension, stroke and heart disease is very strong, which makes it vital that everyone understand this connection as to further prevent the development of aphasia as well.

Sleep apnea can be easily treated to prevent stroke, aphasia and other comorbidities, which is why it is more important than ever to receive continuing education to further improve your patients’ well-being and health.
Every time you provide your patients with up-to-date health care, you are taking preventative steps, but we still have a ways to go and we need your help! Get started today by educating your patients on the risks of untreated sleep apnea, stroke and aphasia. I know June is over, but it is never too late to educate your patients.