Can Orthodontics Help Sleep Apnea?

8 Oct 2018 Braces

Sleep apnea is a common medical condition that can result in a cessation of breathing during the night. While the condition is often characterized by loud snoring, especially when breathing is restarted, many people may be completely asymptomatic. Silent or not, sleep apnea has the potential to create ongoing health problems like hypertension and chronic fatigue. Orthodontics may be a viable solution to help treat sleep apnea. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions.

How Long Do People With Sleep Apnea Stop Breathing?

The cessation of breathing during sleep can range from a few seconds to a few minutes. Even if apnea lasts a couple of minutes, it is generally not enough to deprive the body of oxygen long enough to do permanent damage. Some people who suffer from this condition may have as few as five or so episodes of apnea in an hour, while others may have up to 30 episodes. The more frequently the episodes and the longer the duration of breathing cessation, the higher the risk is to the individual.

Are There Different Kinds of Sleep Apnea?

There are three different types of sleep apnea. The most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, where the airway is being physically blocked in some way. Central sleep apnea is caused by issues in the body’s own nervous system that renders it unable to properly regulate breathing during sleep. Mixed sleep apnea is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.

What Are Some Causes of Sleep Apnea?

There are many different causes of sleep apnea, and these are usually related to obstructive sleep apnea. Obesity is a leading cause, loss of muscle tone in the throat, enlarged tonsils, tumor growth, Down syndrome, and orthodontics issues like a large overbite or improper jaw alignment.

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Sleep apnea is typically treated with the use of a CPAP machine. This is a special device that is worn at night during sleep and pushes air through the throat continuously to prevent the airway from collapsing.

Can Orthodontics Help Cure Sleep Apnea?

Orthodontics may be a helpful treatment for sleep apnea if the cause of the apnea is orthodontics related. For example, if the apnea is caused by a significant overbite, braces could be helpful in reducing the overbite and eventually eliminating it. Most likely, the individual would notice a gradual reduction in sleep apnea symptoms as the bite is corrected over time until eventually the bite becomes normal and the apnea ceases.

In situations where the lower jaw is not properly positioned, an orthodontist may develop a special device to be worn at night during sleep that keeps the jaw in the correct position. This allows the airway to be kept open and to restore breathing without the use of a CPAP machine, although it is only effective when the device is worn. Orthodontics is unlikely to help sleep apnea cases that are caused by other issues like obesity or enlarged tonsils.

When to See an Orthodontist

If you have sleep apnea that you believe may be caused by a misalignment of your jaw, an overbite, or another orthodontics problem, contact an orthodontist for examination and treatment. Call BB Braces Braces today for an appointment at (770) 629-8028.

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