Dr. Paige Prather is dedicated to the oral health and the overall physical well-being of her patients. Airway Centered Dentistry in our Franklin, TN dental office focuses on addressing a wide range of concerns that impact the oral health and everyday quality of life of patients of all ages.
The science of Airway Dentistry is a more comprehensive approach and is constantly evolving. Some important aspects include how we breath, sleep, digest and other oromuscular dysfunctions. The mechanics of natural breathing rely on an open airway that is supported by stable oral health, functional jaw joints, and unrestricted airflow through our nasal passages. When a component of this natural process is compromised in some way, it can lead to health effects that are often chronic. As a dentist, Dr. Prather has an in-depth understanding of the supporting structures and muscles in the mouth and throat that facilitate airflow. She has advanced training in the diagnosis of sleep disorders and a range of therapies and treatments for children and adults.
Dr. Prather uses the airway-centered approach to identify underlying structural and functional causes of sleep and breathing issues and improve symptoms by addressing these. Airway dentistry focuses on addressing common and complex concerns related to the structure of the bite, palate, muscular habits, coordination and function as well as postural habits which can affect how you breathe. The science of Airway Dentistry has shown that many sleep issues are related to undiagnosed oral development concerns. Malocclusion, jaw structure abnormalities, tooth alignment, muscle coordination and strength, tongue posture and habits can affect our growth and our ability to breathe deeply and comfortably. Even infants and children can begin exhibiting poor breathing habits that can develop into sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS).
Treating the effects of sleep issues as early as possible is important for healthy growth and development in children. In adults with sleep problems, treatment is designed to resolve symptoms, restore improved oral health, and overall physical wellbeing.
Dr. Prather uses the airway-centered approach to treat a growing list of oral and overall health concerns that can be tied to sleep issues. The following may be some conditions that may indicate the need for airway assessment.
Dr. Prather works with adult and pediatric patients to evaluate their breathing and the structure of the jaw and palate. Using a range of therapies or treatments to restore better breathing and sleep is the key to addressing problems with lasting results. Airway dentistry could minimize the need for a pharmaceutical approach to behavioral problems such as ADHD. It is important to have a complete and thorough assessment to determine potential contributing factors. In addition to a visual and functional physical assessment Dr. Prather performs 3D airway mapping to assess the structures of the nose and throat. Dr. Prather also conducts home sleep testing to assess for OSA and UARS. You can complete the study in the comfort of your own bed and have a diagnosis by a certified sleep physician. For young children Dr. Prather uses a sleep screener. This can provide valuable information to guide treatment and enable for the most productive outcome. Even in adult patients teeth grinding can be a sign of airway issues. In these cases the sleep screener can provide information a traditional sleep study may not. With the newest technology Dr. Prather can also do occlusal bite mapping to track tooth wear over time and use this as a possible indicator of airway compromise.
Airway dentistry seeks to address the airway structure problems using a variety of treatments based on the individual patients need. Some of these include oral appliances, functional orthodontics, myofunctional therapy, breathing retraining, sleep hygiene and release of tethered oral tissues.
Obstructive sleep apnea or OSA is a sleep disorder that is caused by a collapsing of the soft tissues at the back of the throat. Patients with sleep apnea can experience a range of symptoms, but most report feeling tired, groggy and fatigued much of the time. Sleep apnea can affect anyone, even children. Diagnosis and effective treatment can be both life-changing and life-saving.
UARS is similar to sleep apnea, but studies are still ongoing to determine if there is any relationship between them. Patients with UARS syndrome can experience symptoms such as fatigue and interrupted sleep. UARS causes the airway to be partially blocked by a collapse of soft tissue at the back of the mouth and the flow of air may be minimized enough to cause arousal when sleeping.