Progression of Sleep Disordered Breathing: From Low Tongue Posture to Sleep Apnea

Photo of a young girl in white pjs with pink stars asleep on pink sheets with mouth open

Sleep is a cornerstone of our well-being, yet for many, it’s a battleground fraught with challenges. One such challenge is sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), a spectrum of conditions ranging from subtle disturbances to potentially life-threatening disorders. Understanding its progression is crucial for early intervention and prevention. In this post, we’ll explore the phases of SDB and offer corrective steps to mitigate its impact.

The Phases of Sleep Disordered Breathing

  1. Low Tongue Posture
  2. In the initial phase, low tongue posture can lead to inadequate airway space, setting the stage for further complications. Some corrective steps to take include Myofunctional therapy that will encourage proper tongue posture during waking hours. Talking with an airway dentist at this stage to correct tongue or lip ties and consults about allergies and how these could be contributing to any dysfunction.

  3. Mouth Breathing
  4. As SDB progresses, mouth breathing becomes more prevalent, exacerbating airway obstruction and affecting sleep quality. Utilizing nasal breathing techniques from myofunctional therapy as well as cranial sacral therapy to retrain your body to nasal breathe. Mouth taping at night will encourage nasal breathing as well.

  5. Noisy Breathing
  6. The onset of noisy breathing signals increased airway resistance and turbulence during sleep, disrupting restorative sleep patterns. Addressing nasal congestion through natural allergy remedies as well as beginning myofunctional therapy and other integrative approaches to stop the progression of sleep disordered breathing.

  7. Snoring
  8. Snoring, often dismissed as a nuisance, indicates partial airway obstruction and is a precursor to more severe forms of SDB. Previous strategies can be started if sleep disordered breathing is not caught before this stage. Myofunctional therapy, Allergy relief, encouraging nasal breathing through mouth taping. Mandibular advancement devices can all be used at this point to help the jaw be positioned correctly which encourages airflow.

  9. Sleep Apnea
  10. In its most advanced stage, sleep apnea involves recurrent pauses in breathing during sleep, leading to oxygen desaturation and fragmented sleep architecture. Being caught at this point will require the most drastic steps. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure therapy) is the most common step taken, but many of the previous corrective steps can also be taken to treat sleep apnea including myofunctional therapy, mandibular devices, oral appliance therapy.

Sleep-disordered breathing encompasses a spectrum of conditions with varying degrees of severity. By understanding its progression and recognizing early warning signs, we can intervene promptly to mitigate its impact on sleep quality and overall health. From promoting proper tongue posture to addressing snoring and beyond, early intervention is key to ensuring restful sleep and optimal well-being. If you suspect sleep-disordered breathing in yourself or your child, don’t hesitate to contact us for an evaluation. Your quality of sleep—and life—may depend on it.