Orthodontic Treatment for Sleep Apnea: How Braces Can Improve Your Health!

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterised by breathing pauses during sleep. People suffering from sleep apnea often experience fragmented sleep patterns and reduced oxygen levels during sleep, which can lead to undesirable complications like daytime fatigue, cognitive impairment, and other health concerns.

While sleep apnea can be caused by a variety of factors, sometimes orthodontic misalignments can be the underlying issue. The two main orthodontic problems leading to sleep apnea are narrow palates and misalignment of the jaws. Both of these problems can cause narrow airways, which become blocked during sleep. The result? Sleep apnea, including episodes of snoring, gasping, and interrupted sleep.

To correct orthodontic issues that have resulted in sleep apnea, it’s necessary to consult a qualified orthodontic specialist. A good orthodontist can help determine what treatments can treat the sleep apnea and reduce symptoms.

At Family Braces, we understand the significance of addressing sleep apnea for improved sleep and overall well-being. By utilizing advanced techniques and state-of-the-art technologies, we focus on aligning teeth and jaws to create a more open and unobstructed airway, alleviating sleep apnea symptoms caused by orthodontic misalignments.

NOTE: This article does not constitute medical advice. Individuals should consult their respective healthcare providers to diagnose and treat specific health conditions. 

getting a good night's sleep is essential

Understanding Types of Sleep Apnea

There are two main types off sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea, and central sleep apnea. A third type has been identified as mixed sleep apnea, which is the combination of these two.

  • Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) means that the airway has become partially or completely blocked/obstructed during sleep, resulting in breathing pauses or shallow breathing.
  • Central sleep apnea (CSA) is the result of a neurologically driven form of sleep apnea, in which the brain fails to correctly signal the muscles used for controlling breathing.

Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Common symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Loud and chronic snoring
  • Episodes of choking or gasping during sleep
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Morning headaches
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability
  • Mood disturbances

Relation of Sleep Apnea with Oral Health

How does oral health relate to sleep apnea? There are two main ways that oral health may relate to sleep apnea: problems with the roof of the mouth, also known as the palate, and problems with the jaws.

The Palate

Occasionally, patients suffering from sleep apnea may experience symptoms due to a narrow roof of the mouth, also called the palate. If a patient’s palate is narrow, it can affect the nasal cavities, which sit just above the palate, narrowing the airway through the nose. A narrow palate can also force the tongue back, partially blocking the airway in the throat.

The Jaws

Some patients with sleep apnea have orthodontic problems with their jaws, rather than their palates or teeth. The jaws may be set too far back, which means that there is less room for airflow in the back of the throat, especially during sleep.

Both the Palate and Jaws

For others, both the palate and jaws may be affected, which may require multiple types of orthodontic intervention to treat.

NOTE: The causes of sleep apnea may vary, and orthodontic treatment may not be indicated for every patient. Individuals should see their own healthcare providers to diagnose and treat specific cases.


Health Risks Associated With Untreated Sleep Apnea

Untreated sleep apnea can pose significant health risks and have detrimental effects on overall well-being. Here are some key health risks associated with untreated sleep apnea:

  1. Cardiovascular Problems
  2. Daytime Fatigue and Impaired Cognitive Function
  3. Mental Health Disorders
  4. Metabolic Disorders
  5. Complications during Pregnancy
  6. Increased Risk of Accidents
  7. Reduced Quality of Life

Orthodontic Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

There are several orthodontic treatments which are commonly used to treat sleep apnea, for patients whose symptoms are caused by palate and jaw problems. These include palatal expanders, braces in conjunction with surgery, and mandibular advancement devices.

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs)

Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs) are a non-invasive treatment option for adults who can benefit from temporary re-alignment of the jaw during sleep. These oral appliances reposition the lower jaw (mandible) slightly forward, which helps to open the airway and prevent obstruction.

MADs are custom-made to fit the patient’s teeth and are typically worn at night, somewhat like a retainer. They are fitted to the patient’s upper and lower jaw, and work by gently repositioning the lower jaw forward.

MADs are often considered a suitable treatment option for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

Maxillomandibular Advancement Surgery

For adults with retrognathia (recessed jaws), surgery may be necessary to bring the jaws forward and effectively treat sleep apnea. This treatment is not suitable for children, since their facial bone structures are still developing.

Maxillomandibular advancement surgery involves cutting through the bone, both in the upper jaw and lower jaw. The jaws are then repositioned and plated in place. This creates more room in the patient’s airway.

For patients undergoing this surgery, braces or clear aligners such as Invisalign are used to correct and maintain the alignment of the teeth. This is a crucial component of successful maxillomandibular advancement surgery.   

Palatal Expanders

Palatal expanders are orthodontic appliances used to widen the upper jaw in children. They consist of a device that is attached to the upper molars and connected by a screw mechanism. By regularly activating the screw, the palatal expander applies pressure to the upper jaw, gradually widening it. Palatal expanders are not suitable for adults, because their facial bone structures are already fused and fully-developed.

The expansion of the palate with a palatal expander creates more space in the oral cavity, specifically in the nasal passages and the area behind the tongue. This increased space can improve airflow and reduce obstructions in the upper airway during sleep.

Palatal expanders have shown some effectiveness in treating sleep apnea, particularly in cases where narrow upper jaws contribute to airway obstructions. However, the effectiveness of palatal expanders may vary depending on the individual and the severity of their sleep apnea.


Why Choose Family Braces for Orthodontic Treatment in Calgary

  1. Expertise and Experience: At Family Braces, we pride ourselves on the expertise and experience of our orthodontists. With their in-depth knowledge and years of practical experience, we provide exceptional orthodontic care.
  2. Advanced Technologies and Treatment Options: We are committed to utilizing advanced technologies and treatment options to ensure optimal results for our patients. From digital imaging and 3D modeling to innovative orthodontic techniques, we leverage these advancements to provide efficient, comfortable, and effective orthodontic treatment. For sleep apnea, we offer specialized treatment options such as braces that can help improve breathing and alleviate symptoms.
  3. Personalized Approach and Patient Care: At Family Braces, we believe in a personalized approach to orthodontic treatment. We understand that each patient is unique, with specific needs and goals. We prioritize open communication and patient education throughout the treatment process, ensuring that you are well-informed and involved in every decision.

When you choose Family Braces for your orthodontic treatment in Calgary, you can rest assured that you are in the hands of skilled professionals who are dedicated to your oral health and overall well-being.

Do you want to improve your sleep quality and enhance your overall well-being? Choose Family Braces for expert orthodontic treatment in Calgary. Our experienced orthodontists and advanced technologies are here to help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms and provide you with a better night’s rest.

Take the first step towards better sleep today. Visit our website at www.familybraces.ca to learn more about our orthodontic services and schedule a consultation. Don’t let sleep apnea hinder your health and happiness. Contact Family Braces now and experience the life-changing benefits of orthodontic treatment.