Orthodontics and Sleep Apnea

Do you ever feel that it’s difficult to obtain a good night’s sleep? Has your partner or another family member noticed that you often snore, or breathe loudly when sleeping? If so, you may be suffering from a condition known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).

There are various forms of treatment available to help with sleep apnea, with different levels of effectiveness depending on the severity of your condition. But if your sleep apnea falls in the mild to moderate level, it may be effectively treated using orthodontics.

How Orthodontics Can Help

When an individual’s airway remains clear when sleeping, he or she is able to breathe effortlessly. But for some people, the muscles in the back of the throat begin to relax during the sleep cycle, resulting in a narrowing or even closing of the airway. When this happens, it’s difficult for air to flow properly. If this happens to you, the brain may identify the danger and briefly wake you up, in an attempt to reopen the airway. This process may occur over and over again over the course of a night, resulting in what is known as obstructive sleep apnea. What causes this to happen?

In some patients, the shape of the mouth, throat, and tongue can restrict proper airflow. For some, the tongue is an especially troublesome piece of soft tissue. For example, if you prefer to sleep on your back, your tongue may actually fall back into your air passage, preventing proper air flow.

In cases like these, orthodontic treatment may be used to shift the position of your teeth, thereby gradually changing the shape of the mouth. The result is increased room inside of the mouth, which then increases the amount of air that can enter when breathing and sleeping.

Available Orthodontic Treatments

Your dentist may recommend using a removable oral appliance. You can insert such a device before going to bed for the evening, and it will help keep your mouth and soft tissues in the position they need to be to achieve proper air flow.

If your condition is more serious, you may need a more extensive solution. For example, a longer-term orthodontic appliance can gradually work to increase the size of your mouth, and even correct structural problems like overcrowded and misaligned teeth. As the shape of your mouth changes, air flow increases, eventually causing the sleep apnea to cease.

What’s Best for You?

At the Marconi Dentistry Group, our Carmichael dentists and sleep apnea specialist work together to carefully diagnose your condition and recommend the best possible treatment. Schedule your complimentary evaluation today!