Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleeping disorders, a condition that manifests on average in 1 out of every 15 people. While a poor lifestyle can lead to a heightened risk of sleep apnea, people of any age and gender can suffer from this disorder. Besides ruining your sleep cycle, sleep apnea can lead to a host of other health issues. So is there a cure for sleep apnea?
Currently, there is no specific cure that will totally resolve sleep apnea, but there are health treatment options that can resolve many of the problems associated with sleep apnea. In fact, orthodontists are often consulted to help treat sleep apnea related issues. What oral issues cause sleep apnea problems to develop, and how can orthodontic treatment help?
We here at Demko Orthodontics have developed our guide to help you understand orthodontic sleep apnea treatment:
What Exactly is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a general term for disorders caused by repeated breathing interruptions while trying to sleep. These interruptions can be as short as a few seconds or as long as a few minutes, and can happen dozens of times in an hour. Sleep apnea often leads to less relaxing sleep cycles, especially since many people wake up repeatedly and forcefully from sleep.
Sleep apnea disorders are generally classified under the following three categories:
- Obstructive sleep apnea/OSA. The most common form of sleep apnea. It is caused by throat and mouth blockage, preventing the proper flow of air into the lungs.
- Central sleep apnea/CSA. This form of sleep apnea is when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing while sleeping. It is like your body being told to hold its breath.
- Complex sleep apnea. A combination of the other two forms, a patient who suffers from both OSA and CSA simultaneously.
What Mouth Problems Cause Sleep Apnea?
There are a wide variety of symptoms and causes for each of the three types of sleep apnea disorders. OSA is often caused by obstructions in the throat, but obstructions in the mouth can also lead to sleep apnea issues. A few oral sources of sleep apnea include:
- Tooth misalignment
- Jaw misalignment
- Gum inflammation
- Excessive soft tissue in the mouth
- Palate obstructions
- Wisdom teeth impaction
- Dental arch problems
How Can Orthodontic Treatment Help With Sleep Apnea?
There are several different ways that orthodontic treatment can help treat sleep apnea. These treatments will vary based upon the specific oral problem that needs to be addressed. A few common sleep apnea orthodontic treatment solutions include:
- Braces and aligners. When sleep apnea is caused by misalignment in the mouth, braces and aligners are the ideal solution. These devices will push everything inside your mouth into their proper place, providing a better smile and easier breathing during the day and while sleeping at night.
- Mandibular advancement devices/MADs. These devices act as a sort of jaw splint, a brace that helps adjust overall jaw alignment. When worn properly, the airway is widened while you sleep, making it easier to breathe during sleep. This is also a less invasive and more comfortable treatment option than CPAP therapy.
- Palate expanders. If a jaw isn’t fully developed, such as in younger patients, then palate expanders are often a very effective solution in helping children with sleep apnea issues.
- Mouth surgery. When sleep apnea is caused by obstructions in the mouth, such as excessive tissue or gum problems, surgery may be the best solution. Depending on what kind of surgery needs to be performed, an orthodontist or an endodontist may be required to resolve your oral issues.
Get Sleep Apnea Treatment from Demko Orthodontics
Whether you suffer from sleep apnea or some other oral health concern, you can get great treatment at Demko Smiles. We have three different offices you can visit for dental care, with virtual consultations available so we can discuss your dental needs before treatment. We’re always happy to help patients with all of their orthodontic health needs, and are a proud provider of both traditional braces and Invisalign® clear aligners.
Contact us today if you have any questions, and we look forward to helping you find a happier smile and better health here at Demko Orthodontics.