Holistic dentistry is perfect for families.

Holistic Dentists: Why We Do What We Do

The slogan on the homepage of our website says: “Where Healthy Living, Healthy Breathing, Healthy Sleeping, and Dentistry Meet.” Mandanas Dental was founded by Dr. Owen Mandanas, who practiced as a general dentist for 17 years before looking for a better approach. The sentence on our website sums it up perfectly.

Dentistry is about so much more than teeth – your oral health can impact every aspect of your well-being, which is why it’s important to treat each patient holistically.

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What is holistic dentistry?

That’s what holistic dentistry means, by the way. It’s a philosophy that acknowledges the impact the mouth has on whole-body health. The mouth affects the way we ingest food and drink, which is the fuel we need to survive and function at our best. It also affects the way we breathe, which brings our cells the oxygen they need to function. The mouth is also intrinsically linked to the quality of our sleep, because anatomical issues can cause serious problems like sleep apnea.

Holistic dentists are fully-qualified dentists. We can perform all the same check-ups and procedures as regular dentists, such as general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, dentures, dental implants, orthodontics, and even sedation dentistry (you can view our services page to learn more).

However, they take it a step further than just improving your smile and filling your cavities. For Dr. Mandanas, it began by successfully helping people correct sleep disorders with dental appliances. It started a journey of further education that means she now sees herself as being part of a patient’s health care team instead of just stepping in and out as their tooth doctor.

Through this lens, holistic dentists can also advise you on the link between oral health and things such as gut health, high blood pressure, heart disease, weight gain or weight loss, and more.

Finding a holistic dentist in Anchorage

Dr. Mandanas was born in the Philippines but grew up in South Carolina. She completed her undergraduate education in English at Goucher College in Maryland before going to study dentistry at Northwestern University in Illinois. She has two decades of experience and is a self-described “dental geek,” who still love studying her craft. When she moved to Alaska, she spent time serving the Native Alaska community in Nome, before settling in Anchorage with her husband and two sons.

She’s affiliated with a number of key organizations, such as the American Academic of Dental Sleep Medicine, Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorder Disciplines, American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry, and International Academy of Oral Medicine and Toxicology. She’s also a member of the Holistic Dental Association, American Dental Association, and Alaska Dental Society.

Her main interest is in sleep breathing disorders and she loves studying craniofacial anatomy. In other words, she’s the person to see if you’re having trouble with things like snoring, difficulty breathing at night, and sleep apnea. She’ll talk to you about your symptoms, figure out exactly why you’re experiencing them, and discuss a range of treatment options with you.

What is the future for holistic dentistry?

Holistic dentistry is constantly evolving. Like Dr. Mandanas, most practitioners are – well, we already know they’re geeks – and they’re always combing through new research to find better ways of doing things. Here at Mandanas Dental, the team is committed to having an open mind and considering natural, evidence-based approaches to oral health as well as traditional methods. That way, we can be sure to find the best option to suit each patient, based on their personal circumstances.

Holistic dentistry is known by a lot of names, including integrative dentistry, progressive dentistry, and biocompatible dentistry. It’s an evolution in dental practice that will help you achieve optimal health through a personalized treatment plan that favors natural treatments where possible. We believe it leads to the best possible patient outcomes – and as such, it’s the future of dentistry.

Ready to try holistic dentistry for yourself? Schedule an appointment today

Holistic denstistry can help with sleep apnea

Can Holistic Dentistry Cure Sleep Apnea?

What’s one thing that can ruin your relationship and your health at the same time? The not-so-silent mood-ruiner, sleep apnea (surprise! It’s not bad reality TV). Around 22 million Americans are estimated to suffer from sleep apnea, which is a serious condition that can significantly impact your quality of life. The good news is there are many ways you can treat it naturally, while regaining your wellbeing and allowing your loved one to get the rest they deserve after a long day at work. Read on to learn more.

Worried about sleep apnea? Contact us to find a solution.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea occurs when breathing halts during sleep because the tongue or throat muscles are blocking the airways. It usually skates away by being labeled as loud snoring or trouble sleeping. This is because sometimes unknowingly, a person will wake up due to the panic response that the brain triggers from the lack of oxygen. The health implications caused by sleep apnea can be very serious, leading to long-term issues.

What are the symptoms of sleep apnea?

The symptoms of sleep apnea could very easily slip on by, masked as either a bad night’s sleep or as a general feeling of being unwell or slightly under the weather. We’ve put together a list of the top 10 symptoms to look out for so you can combat early signs of sleep apnea:

  1. Daytime sleepiness
  2. Snoring
  3. Suddenly waking up by gasping or choking
  4. Dry mouth or throat
  5. Headaches in the morning
  6. Lack of focus/forgetfulness during the day
  7. Depression, irritability, or mood swings
  8. High blood pressure
  9. Insomnia
  10. Night-time sweating

Why is sleep apnea so serious?

Sleep apnea is more than just snoring or hitting the snooze button a few extra times in the morning. This is something that has real long-term effects if not addressed. These are some of the high-risk dangers to look out for:

Heart disease: Untreated sleep apnea increases the risk of heart failure but 140% and the risk of stroke by 60%, according to the Comprehensive Sleep Care Center.

High blood pressure: When the airways are blocked due to sleep apnea, stress hormones are released which leads to an increase in blood pressure. Over a long course of time, this can make high blood pressure a risk factor. 

Stroke: People who suffer from sleep apnea have a higher chance of having a stroke due to common high blood pressure. Strokes are also much more difficult to recover from sleep apnea.

Cognitive impairment: Sleep apnea causes a lack of oxygen that can impair the brain and cause many issues such as memory, learning, functionality, dementia, and delayed attention, over time.

How can you cure sleep apnea naturally?

Finding help for sleep apnea from the right doctor is always a good solution. Depending on your lifestyle and situation, you could also benefit from natural solutions to sleep apnea. Here are some of the ways you can naturally combat sleep apnea.

See a holistic dentist: A holistic dentist will provide a range of treatment options that may be able to help you catch the extra sleep you need. Keep reading, because we’ll dive into this in a moment.

Manage your weight: Having extra weight around your neck can be a big factor in sleep apnea symptoms, especially snoring. Even losing 10% of body weight could effectively help sleep apnea symptoms.

Exercise regularly: Being active regularly can help strengthen your heart, energy levels, and sleep. Yoga has also been known to help because it increases oxygen levels.

Alter your sleep position: In more than half of all sleep apnea cases, the condition arises because of sleeping position, according to a 2006 hospital study. Sleeping on your back or with your head propped up can be especially helpful because it opens the airways. 

Use a humidifier: A humidifier adds more moisture to the air, which can help congested airways and make breathing easier. 

Use oral appliances: A CPAP machine is a mask you use when you sleep that increases air pressure in your throat so the airways can’t close and suffocate you. A sleep apnea mouthguard has a strap that pushes the lower jaw and tongue forward, keeping your airway open. Both options lead to a better night’s sleep which can reduce many of the harmful symptoms.

Why you should see a holistic dentist first

Seeing an integrative or holistic dentist for sleep apnea can make all the difference for you. Unlike regular dentists who only focus on oral health, Integrative dentistry looks at the big picture. They are founded on the belief that oral health and the health of your entire body are tied together.

When you see a dentist who practices holistic dentistry for sleep apnea, they will look for the causes of sleep apnea, not just the obvious symptoms. Their focus is much more on how your sleep apnea is affecting the health of your entire body, not just your loss of sleep. They target root problems that may go unnoticed such as poor jaw or tongue alignment, mental stimulation, or breathing problems.

Seeing a holistic dentist like Dr. Mandanas can help you assess your sleep apnea and find solutions that would best first your lifestyle, naturally. If you (or your loved one) are suffering from sleep apnea, there is still hope to get a good night’s sleep. We will work with you to find a solution.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact us today!

Does tongue position affect breathing?

Does Tongue Position Affect Breathing?

Do you most often breathe through your mouth? Do you suffer from sleep apnea? It’s possible that your tongue may be improperly positioned. The tongue is a strong muscle, and it has the power to shape the mouth over time, which means tongue position can seriously affect breathing.

During sleep, for example, your tongue relaxes and falls back. If it’s larger than usual, or set higher than normal, it can fully or partially block your airway. This means you’ll struggle to breathe when you’re asleep, diminishing the quality of your rest and causing a range of other oral health issues.

When we visit the dentist, most of us expect to talk about things related to teeth, like brushing, flossing, fillings, and braces. However, dentists specialize in everything going on inside your mouth, which includes your gums, cheeks, tongue, and much more. Holistic dentists take it a step further, because they view the mouth as being the gateway to your overall health and wellbeing.

When they are conducting an examination, they’ll ask questions about a range of lifestyle factors – including breathing and sleep – to ensure they can diagnose you correctly and recommend a course of treatment that will treat not just the symptoms of an issue, but the underlying cause as well.

Want to learn more? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas.

Is my tongue in the right position?

Everyone’s mouth is a different shape, but generally speaking, your tongue should lie flat against the roof of your mouth and the tip should touch the back of your front teeth. It should remain this way whether you’re awake or asleep, however, there are lots of factors that can cause this to change.

If your jaw isn’t correctly aligned, for example, or you have issues with crowding, there may not be enough room for your tongue to sit in the right spot. In addition to restricting breathing, this can also affect things like speaking, eating, and sleeping, which can be very detrimental to your wellbeing.

Can I retrain my tongue?

The good news is most people can quickly correct tongue positioning issues with exercises. Your dentists may prescribe these in order to retrain your tongue, and teach it how to sit properly. They may also refer you to a speech therapist, which is someone who specializes in oral skills.

If your tongue position is cause by retrognathia, a condition in which the lower jaw is pulled back, pushing the tongue backwards as well, your dentist may also prescribe a mandibular advancement device (MAD). This is a very effective device that prevents the lower jaw from slipping back during sleep, which can help keep the tongue out of the way so your airways remain clear all night long.

Why do holistic dentists look at tongues?

Holistic dentistry is about considering all the different factors at play and working naturally with the body to find a solution that optimizes your overall health and wellbeing. Holistic dentists also favor non-invasive treatments, which help your body adjust and repair itself as naturally as possible.

No part of the mouth operates in isolation. Correcting your tongue positioning isn’t just about stopping noisy snoring! It’s about helping you breathe easier, which will maximize the restfulness of your sleep, increase the amount of oxygen you inhale with every breath, and increase your energy levels. This can have a flow-on effect of improving your diet, generating the energy to exercise more, boosting your mood, and improving your mental health. Every part of the human body is interlinked.

How can I get help with a tongue positioning issue?

If anything we’ve mentioned in this blog post sounds familiar – for example, if you wake up every morning with a super dry mouth because you’ve breathed through it all night, you feel tired all the time, or you’ve been told you snore like a freight train – it’s best to raise the topic with your dentist.

Your dentist will be able to conduct a thorough examination at your next check-up, discuss any difficulties you’re experiencing, and let you know if they spot anything out of the ordinary. They’ll talk you through any issues and work with you to create a customized treatment plan that takes your specific needs into account so you can get back to breathing easily at night.

Ready to schedule an appointment? Contact our friendly team today!

How sleep apnea is treated through holistic dentistry

How Sleep Apnea is Treated Through Holistic Dentistry

It is estimated that as many as 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. If you are among them, you’ve probably heard of CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) machines. Those who’ve experienced CPAP machines know how effective they are, but can also testify to the discomfort involved in using them. This discomfort leads to low adherence, which means that many people who need them don’t use them as often as they should. The other key trouble with CPAP machines is that while they alleviate the symptoms, they don’t treat the causes of sleep apnea.

So, how can a holistic dentist help?

A holistic (or integrative) dentist will look for causes of sleep apnea, not just the symptoms. Major causes of sleep apnea actually include poor alignment of the jaw, and of the tongue, which are all things your dentist can help treat. These conditions can include:

  • Retrognathia: Poor alignment of the jaw can often be seen when the lower jaw is pulled back. This can push the tongue and the pharyngeal tissue backwards, restricting the airway and causing sleep apnea.
  • High tongue: Dr. Mandanas also looks for a higher than average tongue level. During sleep, the tongue relaxes and falls back. If it is larger than usual or set higher, it could block the airway when it relaxes, causing you to struggle to breathe when you’re asleep.
  • Mouth breathing: This can be caused by either a bad habit, sometimes brought on by a persistent cold, or by a developmental issue such as a collapsed arch. Mouth breathing is sometimes a symptom of an underlying issue which is also causing sleep apnea. However, mouth breathing can also cause sleep apnea itself as well. The tonsillar tissue at the back of the throat is designed to catch and kill bacteria before they enter the lungs. Excessive use, caused by constant mouth breathing, can cause this tissue to swell and lead to sleep apnea. Nose breathing, on the other hand, has many benefits – for example, nose hairs filter bacteria before they enter the airway; nitric oxide gas in the nasal passage kills bad bacteria; nasal passages warm air before it enters the lungs.
  • Tongue positioning: The tongue is a strong muscle and over time it shapes the mouth. Improper positioning of the tongue can, therefore, lead to mouth breathing and sleep apnea as we age.

What treatments can a holistic dentist provide?

The treatment naturally depends on the cause of sleep apnea. For tongue issues, retraining exercises can help by teaching the tongue where to sit while not in use. However, if your sleep apnea is caused by retrognathia, Dr. Mandanas may prescribe a mandibular advancement device (MAD). This device prevents the lower jaw from slipping back during sleep.

Like the CPAP machine, a MAD is worn during sleep. However, unlike a CPAP machine, a MAD is much less restrictive, allowing the patient to roll over and sleep in their preferred position. As treatment progresses and the jaw learns to stay in the new position, the MAD is adjusted to gradually push the lower jaw forward. It’s a really effective treatment.

Dr. Mandanas is also studying Advanced Light Force (ALF) therapy for patients who need a more advanced treatment than mandibular advancement. The ALF device works by applying light pressure to the interior of the teeth and facial bones to adjust the cranial structure, enacting neurological as well as physical changes by using the natural forces of the body for advanced sleep apnea patients. It is able to be worn during the day and is almost invisible to others, making compliance so much easier and delivering great results!

What are my options?

When you visit Dr. Mandanas, she will assess the causes of your sleep apnea and recommend the best treatment plan for you. The integrative options discussed above are covered by most insurances, although that coverage does depend on the exact nature of your sleep apnea.

If you or a family member suffers from sleep apnea and you are interested in Dr. Mandanas’ approach as an integrative dentist, contact us during office hours to schedule an appointment! We look forward to seeing you.

What Is a Mandibular Advancement Device? (How It Works)

What Is a Mandibular Advancement Device? (How It Works)

Do you or a loved one suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? If so, your dentist may have recommended a mandibular advancement device (MAD), an up and coming alternative to the CPAP machine. Now you might be wondering, “What exactly is a device like this and how does it work?” We’re happy to answer these questions for you today. Dr. Mandanas has been successfully treating OSA patients with oral devices for years and her passion is helping people find a solution that works for them. Enjoy learning from her expertise!

Are you ready to get MAD about sleep apnea? Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mandanas!

What Is a Mandibular Advancement Device and How Does It Work?

The mandibular advancement device (MAD) is an alternative treatment to the CPAP machine for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). It is a sturdy, plastic, oral device that fits over the upper and lower teeth much like a mouthguard with a hinge in the middle. It works by gently advancing the lower jaw (mandible) forward during sleep. Because the lower jaw is attached to tongue behind the chin, the MAD advances this tissue as well, preventing it from collapsing over the airway (causing obstruction), thereby preventing OSA.

For many years, the mandibular advancement device has been proposed as an effective alternative to the CPAP machine for treating mild to moderate cases of obstructive sleep apnea, especially when the patient is considered a “CPAP reject.” A CPAP reject is someone who cannot tolerate the CPAP machine, which is very common. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine works by forcing air through the patient’s airway to keep it open throughout the night. The air is administered from the machine to the patient by means of tubing and a mask. Both the mask and the forced air can be very uncomfortable, causing patients to remove the mask.

The mandibular advancement device is often preferred by the patient and is historically better for treatment adherence than the CPAP machine. That said, whether or not the MAD can treat severe cases of OSA is still under study. One of the latest scientific articles regarding these studies was published in January of 2018. The article confirmed the growing body of evidence that the MAD is an effective alternative to CPAP (in large part due to patient adherence) and typically preferred by patients when given a choice. From the article:

“There is now a strong body of evidence supporting their (oral appliances) use in OSAHS and clinical guidelines now recommend their use in mild OSAHS and in more severe cases when CPAP fails.”

Journal of Thoracic Disease

“It seems that the higher efficacy of CPAP is offset by greater MAD compliance.

Journal of Thoracic Disease

The factors that determine whether or not a dentist will recommend the mandibular advancement device include:

  • The severity of your obstructive sleep apnea
  • The structure of your upper airway
  • Any other medical issues you may have
  • Your personal preference

If you think the mandibular advancement device might be right for you or your loved one who suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, we would love to get you in for an appointment with Dr. Mandanas. The MAD has helped many patients who are “CPAP rejects” sleep deeply through the night and wake up feeling fully refreshed with energy throughout the day! Dr. Mandanas has a strong understanding of what makes someone a good candidate for the MAD. Please schedule an appointment with our office today.