Orthodontic Tips April 4, 2011
I had a “fist pump” moment last week.
I wanted to jump into the air and “Chest Bump” with someone. Anyone.
I was introduced to a 60-year-old gentleman who accompanied a former patient for her annual TMJ splint check-up appointment.
“Would you mind having a look at my bite” he said, “I just don’t feel comfortable with it anymore. I got a new partial denture and my jaw just doesn’t know where to sit now.”
I looked at his face and saw a very retrognathic mandible. He was a thin gentleman with a little “pot belly”. His skin had a pasty pallor to it.
He continued talking as he prepared to take up the time set aside for his friend’s appointment, but I stopped him.
“Have you been tested for sleep apnea?” I asked.
“Well, my partner says that I snore and sometimes I stop breathing while I’m sleeping.”
That’s when I wanted to pump my fist and do a “Chest Bump”. It was a diagnostic touchdown.
There is increasing evidence of the correlation between TMD and Sleep Apnea. I see it in my practice many times a week because I treat a lot of TMD and I enjoy the challenge of it.
This story doesn’t go much further since the gentleman wasn’t my patient and my recommendation for a sleep test was not under my control. However, I wanted to share this exciting moment. Who else but a dentist would understand how I felt?
You can watch for overt signs of obstructive sleep apnea too. They are: retrognathic mandible, over-weight body shape, poor skin pallor, TMD symptoms. Ask the patient about snoring, cessation of breathing at nighttime and tiredness during the day. Maybe you will save a life by recommending that the patient seek a sleep test with their physician.
If you find one, let me know. Then we can “Chest Bump”.
Have a great week.