Patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea face a variety of unpleasant symptoms on a nightly basis, and even when they’re awake. Difficulty breathing leads to interrupted sleep cycles, which in turn leads to headaches, irritability, and fatigue the following day.
This type of condition needs to be handled at the source, and as the name implies, obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a physical obstruction in the patient’s airway.
Named after anesthesiologist Seshagiri Mallampati, the Mallampati score indicates the measurement and categorization of the amount of space in the patient’s oral cavity. Less space means greater chances of a blocked airway while sleeping.
For the assessment, the patient simply opens his or her mouth wide and sticks out the tongue. An assessor will then score the oral cavity based on his or her view of the patient’s uvula, soft palate, and tonsils.
If the assessor can see the bottom of the patient’s uvula, the airway is open and is categorized as Mallampati I.
If the tongue conceals a bit of the uvula, the airway is mostly open and is categorized as Mallampati II.
If the tongue covers the majority of the uvula, the assessor will consider this Mallampati III.
If the uvula is entirely covered, the airway is very blocked. These cases are considered Mallampati IV.
A Mallampati score of III or IV is typically indicative of a higher rate of obstruction in airway as a result of enlarged tonsils or adenoids and poor Myofunctional activity (swallowing pattern and tongue position at rest) and tongue-tie.
While this scoring system seems fairly straightforward, it’s often just one step Dr. Korous uses in the process of diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and myofunctional disorders. Patients also might need an at-home sleep study. Looking to learn more about Millenium Smiles? Call us today at 972-987-4899 to learn more about our treatments and how we use technologically advanced dental care to treat our patients.