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Natural Awakenings Coastal Carolinas

Holistic Dental Care: A Novel Cure for Teeth Grinding

Aug 01, 2020 10:19PM ● By Jessica Shireman
A powerful moment in my path to health and wellness happened recently. Between three kids and a dental practice and more, sleeping well is critical. One night before bed, I searched for my DNA appliance. I asked my husband if he had seen it; he hadn’t. I wandered around the house and checked out all my usual stashing places: No luck. 

“Ugh,” I internalized. “I’ll wake up tomorrow with sore teeth from grinding. I’ll be so tired tomorrow.”

I’m no stranger to wearing things in my mouth when I sleep: two years of Invisalign before the DNA appliance, retainers, nightguards that I could not wear (I think the count is six) and braces when I was a teenager. We laughed when my girl would steal my hot pink nightguard and attempt to wear it while wandering around the house. In brutal honesty, I spent more than 15 years of my life as a competitive swimmer, years that were plagued with sinus infections. I remember doing saline rinses so didn’t have to have sinus surgery. I probably took more than 100 rounds of antibiotics as sinus infections knocked on the clock just like a monthly cycle; my mother called the physician for another antibiotic when I felt one coming.

With complete exhaustion and frustration, I resolved the appliance was on my desk at work and I would find it the next day. With dread, I laid down and went to sleep.

To my surprise, I woke up the next morning after over nine hours of sleep. I dreamt and my teeth weren’t sore, probably one of the first times ever: I hadn’t been grinding. Was this actually possible? Grinding is prevalent amongst modern populations. In clinical practice, I used to believe that grinding was the nighttime manifestation of stress. I ground; I was stressed; this made sense. I was wrong. One day I learned that grinding was a sign of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). The prevalence of SDB in the modern population starts at 40% and is not well-documented. I have had multiple sleep tests; I don’t have sleep apnea.

I have a condition called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome. It means that my maxillary jaw is small. The causation stems back to the works of Weston Price and his studies of nutrition. Poor stimulation of the maxillary jaw during the critical years of nutrition results in poorly developed upper jaws. When you look at the maxilla in detail, you realize it reaches from your upper teeth all the way to the bottom of your eyes. And this absolutely includes the sinuses. Six months of growing my upper jaw at 0.25 millimeters per week resulted in a night of sleep that my upper jaw was big enough that my body didn’t choke for air during the night. My dark circles were smaller. I haven’t even thought about a sinus infection throughout treatment. In fact, I was on the edge of a sinus infection when the appliance arrived, and the infection was gone within two days of wear. I went back to the office and took a new 3-D radiograph. My airway was bigger. And my lifetime of chronic sinus infections was gone.

I was grateful for the new tool to help my patients. The Vivos systems helps not only chronic sinus infections, but it is also U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved for permanent resolution of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Correcting airway issues prior to dental treatment not only has a beneficial effect upon patients’ overall health, but it increases the longevity of dental treatment.

If you are interested in learning more about if you have an airway issue, contact our office for a free educational session.

Dr. Jessica Shireman, DMD, AIOMT, has been practicing holistic dentistry for several years in Raleigh and will soon celebrate the one-year anniversary of her practice in Wilmington. She has numerous patents and scientific publications, and is an active member of the IAOMT, the Holistic Dental Association and many online holistic groups. She believes the field is rapidly growing and changing, and she completes far more continuing education than required. She is currently studying the role of the oral cavity in airway health which affects overall health. Location: Wilmington Holistic Dentistry, 6200 Oleander Dr., Wilmington. For more information, call 910-777-4020, visit WilmingtonHolisticDentistry.com or view YouTube.com/watch?v=hOvF6LXSE_4 . See ad, page 5.