Dr. Ratti Handa is dedicated to the oral health and overall physical well-being of our patients. She practices Airway-Centered Dentistry in Acton, MA to address 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 continues to develop, focusing on how we breathe and what factors are leading to common sleep problems. 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. Handa has an in-depth understanding of the tissues 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. Handa uses the airway-centered approach to your care in our office to identify the underlying structural cause of a sleep issue and resolve symptoms. Airway dentistry focuses on addressing common and complex concerns related to the structure of the bite and palate, which affects how you breathe. The science of Airway Dentistry has shown that many adult sleep issues are related to undiagnosed oral development concerns. Malocclusion, jaw structure abnormalities, and tooth alignment can affect our growth and our ability to breathe deeply and comfortably in our sleep. What may begin as mouth breathing when we are young can lead to 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.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
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.
Common signs of sleep apnea can include:
- Feeling groggy or tired, even after sleeping
- Snoring or waking up gasping for air
- Dry mouth upon waking
- Increasing irritability or moodiness
- Difficulty concentrating
What is Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome?
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. There are often specific structural characteristics in patients with UARS including a narrow palate at the back and overjet in the bite.
What Can Airway Dentistry Treat?
Dr. Handa uses the airway-centered approach to treat a growing list of oral and overall health concerns that can be tied to sleep issues. In young children, sleep disturbance caused by an airway issue can lead to behavioral problems, bedwetting, and chronic allergies. Dr. Handa works with 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 a behavioral problem such as ADHD.
Airway dentistry seeks to address the airway structure problems using oral appliances, orthodontics and other minimally invasive dental treatments.