|Sleep Apnea from an Anatomical and Developmental Perspective|
Summary of Points
Eventually there will be several different presentations
and articles on this website. All the information has one underlying theme
- that of informing you what can cause health problems and how to possibly avoid
We currently have a health care crisis in America as does the rest of the world. The cost of health care is spiraling out of control. Economics and politics now determine who will receive treatment and by which health care provider. I will cover this crisis in more detail in a future article, "Our Health Care Crisis".
Prevention of health problems is the key to resolving our health care crisis. The following statements summarize the key points that people need to understand about health.
Point #1 - The most important thing in life is one’s ability to breathe. Humans cannot live longer than several minutes if they cannot breathe. Put in another way, one’s total health is directly related to one’s ability to breathe.
#2 - The
second most important thing in life is one’s ability to take in fluids.
Fluid is not as critical as air, but one can only survive several days
without fluid. For infants this
fluid is breastmilk, for adults the best fluid is water. Breastmilk is also the best way to supply natural nutrients
to an infant.
One’s ability to obtain quality sleep is now being recognized as a very
important component of good health. A
serious medical condition called obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) interferes with
your ability to have a quality sleep. OSA
can reduce the oxygen content in your blood, and it can also disturb your sleep
by awakening you many times during the night (you are usually unaware of these
Research out of Stanford University (Kushida,
Efron, Guilleminault, A Predictive Morphometric Model for the Obstructive Sleep
Apnea Syndrome, Annals of Internal Medicine, Vol. 127, No. 8(Part1), Oct 15,
1997. Pages 581-587)
states that individuals with malocclusions (bad bites) that include narrow
dental arches, retruded chins (pushed back), and high palates, put people at
risk for having OSA. The American
Academy of Pediatric Dentistry stated in 1995-96 that 89% of children ages 12-17
had some form of malocclusion and 16% had such significant malocclusions, that
mandatory treatment of the condition was necessary.
Personal research on prehistoric skulls by Dr. Palmer, and that of others,
demonstrates that prehistoric skulls had minimal malocclusions like those
described in #4 above. Breastfeeding
was the only option of nurturing infants in those days.
Also of interest is that prehistoric skulls have minimal, if any, decayed
Craniofacial development is 90% complete by the age of 12.
Any correction of abnormal develop in this area needs to be initiated
during the early years of life.
Breastmilk is specifically designed for each mammal species.
Breastfeeding also helps satisfy an infant’s natural desire to
suckle/suck. When this desire is
satisfied by breastfeeding, there is less need for the infant to suck on objects
like digits, blankets, etc.
Breastfeeding helps develop a correct swallow pattern as well as proper
development of muscles around the face and jaw.
Proper swallowing and not sucking on objects excessively are the keys to
a good occlusion. It is rare to
find malocclusions in prehistoric skulls because breastfeeding was the only form
of infant nurturing.
#9 - Bottle-feeding, excessive use of pacifiers, digit sucking, and
other noxious infant habits are major contributing factors to malocclusions
(other factors are also discussed in the presentations).
Malocclusions and abnormal swallowing patterns are major contributing factors to
many dental problems - at a major expense to the individual, insurance
companies, and government health care programs.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a very serious medical condition that is grossly
under diagnosed and under treated in our society today.
There are no current ideal treatments or cures for OSA once it is
diagnosed. Prevention during
childhood days is the best form of treatment for OSA.
Prehistoric man did not have obstructive sleep apnea - mainly because infants
were exclusively breastfed. Skulls
exhibited good occlusions with wide dental arches and large posterior nasal
apertures (choanae). The larger the
choanae, the wider the beginning of the airway - with less risk of collapsing
than a narrow beginning of the airway - as would be present with a narrow arch
with a high palate.
#3: Breastfeeding reduces
the risk of obstructive sleep apnea by assisting in the proper development of
the oral cavity and airway.
#4: Breastfeeding is the
best form of health care and should be promoted in all societies.
Billions of dollars in health care costs could be saved if everyone was
educated on the importance of breastfeeding.
conclusions addressed in presentations on this website include:
#5: Breastfeeding /
breastmilk does NOT cause infant caries / decay.
Conclusion #6: Tight frenums can interfere with breastfeeding and can cause significant health and dental problems. Newborns should be evaluated for tight frenulums at birth and treated accordingly.
I hope the articles and presentations on this website will help demonstrate the basis for these conclusions.