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Can Braces/Orthodontics Treat Sleep Apnea?

By Kellyn Hodges on June 13, 2013

Braces / Orthodontics for Sleep Apnea TreatmentWe've discussed on multiple occasions how correction of malocclusion and bite problems can lead to better overall wellness. A straight smile and properly aligned teeth really are keys to having great health overall.

You may have heard about the potential for braces or orthodontics to treat sleep apnea. When you meet with your orthodontist, you can go over this issue in much greater detail. Right now, we'd like to go over some of the basics of sleep apnea and its treatment so you know what it entails and what to expect.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is more than just violent snoring. It's a kind of sleep disorder that involves the cessation or interruption of normal at-rest breathing. This stoppage in breathing is known as an apnea, and apneas can least between a few seconds to a few minutes. The number of apneas per hour can vary from patient to patient, but they generally range from five to 30 an hour.

Sleep apnea can result in poor sleep, which means fatigue, grogginess, lack of mental alertness, and even increased risk for hypertension and other serious health problems.

Causes of Sleep Apnea

The cause of a person's sleep apnea really depends on the kind of sleep apnea that they suffer from. There are three different kinds of sleep apnea:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea - The most common form of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) refers to physical or physiological causes of sleep apnea, such as obesity, low muscle tone, or blockages in the airways.
  • Central sleep apnea - Central sleep apnea (CSA) refers to problems with the brain and central nervous system that affect the body's ability to regulate breathing during sleep.
  • Mixed sleep apnea - Mixed sleep apnea refers to a combination of OSA and CSA.

When you meet with a doctor or our orthodontists, we will look into the root cause of your sleep apnea in order to define the best treatment for your needs.

Can braces really help treat sleep apnea?

In some ways yes. Tooth alignment, jaw alignment, and spacing of the dental arch can all affect the breathing passages in subtle ways. In that regard, braces and orthodontic care are preventative methods of addressing sleep apnea, improving airflow by making the structures of the mouth more ideal.

That said, the use of braces alone to treat sleep apnea is rather uncommon. Many dentists and orthodontists will often help patients through the use of special dental appliances. These custom mouthguards are worn during sleep and help adjust the position of the lower jaw in such a way that a better breathing passage is opened up, eliminating apneas during sleep.

Are there other options for sleep apnea treatment?

Yes, and they can vary in effectiveness and invasiveness. The most common treatment is often the use of a CPAP machine. The CPAP machine will aid in continuous airflow during sleep. There are also different surgeries that can be performed in order to improve airflow, and some of these procedures are more invasive than others.

In order to determine how you can best be helped, be sure to meet with your general practitioner and get checked for sleep apnea. If it's determine that you do suffer from sleep apnea, a treatment option can then be determined that will best meet your needs.

Schedule a Consultation for Orthodontic Treatment

If you would like more information on all of your options for advanced orthodontic care, be sure to contact our Philadelphia area orthodontics specialists today. The entire team looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you make the best decisions regarding your dental health and total wellness.

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