The Role Of Orthodontics In Sleep Apnea

Dr. Purushothaman
January 24, 2021

Did you know that teeth and jaw alignment problems can interrupt your sleep by causing difficulty in breathing? Well, not many people are aware of the connection between misaligned teeth or jaw and sleep apnea. In case of people suffering from sleep apnea, their breathing is mostly restricted by the shape of the mouth, tongue and throat.

Several studies have determined that small jaw sizes can affect airflow which in turn can lead to worsening the condition of sleep apnea. Let’s understand the connection between the jaw and sleep apnea.

What is the Connection between Your Jaw and Sleep Apnea?

A bad bite or a misaligned jaw not only affects your appearance but in severe cases impacts your breathing during your sleep. This leads to difficulty in breathing while asleep, sleep apnea and other related health disorders. Three types of misalignment cause a bad bite.

  1. Overbite – When the upper teeth rest in front of the lower teeth in a closed jaw
  2. Underbite – When the lower teeth rest in front of the upper teeth in a closed jaw
  3. Crossbite – When the teeth are tilted either towards the tongue or the cheeks

How can Orthodontic Treatment Address Sleep Apnea Effectively?

One of the most common forms of sleep apnea is caused because of a physical blockage in the airway. An incorrectly aligned jaw is one of the reasons because of which the airway can become blocked. In case of a misaligned jaw, the tissues of the upper or the lower mouth can lead to a blockage in the airway resulting in an obstruction. This may further lead to cessation of breathing during sleep and also decrease in oxygen levels in the blood.

Orthodontics offers effective solutions for correcting misaligned jaws. Affordable braces can correct alignment problems in the jaw and help treat obstructive sleep apnea. When the jaw is correctly aligned, the tissues of the mouth are less likely to obstruct the airway. To understand better let’s take a look at some ways in which an orthodontic treatment of teeth braces can help address the disorder of sleep apnea effectively.

Corrects Bite Problems An improperly aligned jaw can obstruct your airway. This is generally seen in patients with an overbite. When you are asleep, some of the muscles relax which narrows the opening of the airway. Due to this insufficient amount of air enters your lungs and it you may stop breathing as a result. Correcting the bite problem opens up the airway which allows you to breathe easily during your sleep. This ensures that you have uninterrupted sleep and you feel more rested and recharged upon waking up. The severity of your bite problem and your age the orthodontist may prescribe an oral appliance or teeth braces to help reposition your jaw forward. In certain cases where the problem of sleep apnea is severe because of bite problems, jaw surgery is prescribed to correct the severe skeletal misalignment as it’s one of the best treatment options.

  • Decreases Stress on Jaw 

Misaligned teeth and jaw can put stress on your jaw. This may also increase in teeth clenching or grinding which in turn may cause neck and jaw pain and even headaches in many cases. These symptoms may lead to disrupted sleep. Orthodontic treatment such as braces is effective in correcting jaw and teeth misalignments which help decrease the stress on your jaw.

  • The Right Type of Braces for Maximum Benefit 

There are different types of braces available. These include lingual, ceramic, self-ligating, Invisalign and the traditional metal braces. Your orthodontist will help you choose the right kind of braces for you. This is important because the right braces give you the maximum benefits.

Every case of sleep apnea is different and is hence treated differently. For those whose condition is caused or aggravated because of misaligned teeth or jaw, braces are one of the most effective orthodontic solutions to reduce the effects of sleep apnea.

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