Orthodontist in Creedmoor Answers: How Are Sleep Apnea and Orthodontics Linked?

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. Many people are unaware that they even suffer from it since it happens during the night. The disorder can lead to many health problems, and some risk factors include orthodontic issues. Our orthodontist in Creedmoor explains these below.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea is caused by a dysfunction in your central nervous system. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common type of sleep apnea. With both, your breathing is stopped during the night due to a collapse of the soft tissues in your throat, obstructing your airway and therefore, the transfer of oxygen to your brain. Complications include high blood pressure, increased stroke risk, and decreased blood oxygen levels. In addition, sleep apnea is also bad for your dental health. Common risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include:

  • Obesity
  • Smoking
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Having a short neck

It may be difficult to determine that you have sleep apnea, but some symptoms include:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Snoring
  • Dry mouth upon waking
  • Headache upon waking
  • Broken sleep patterns

Your partner may notice that you stop breathing or snore during the night. If you have any of these symptoms, you should be checked by our doctor.

How Is Sleep Apnea Linked To Orthodontics?

A small jaw has been linked to an increased incidence of sleep apnea. With a small jaw or smallmouth, there simply isn’t enough room for your tongue. During sleep, your tongue will be pushed into your airway, blocking your breathing. Our orthodontist can also see other problems related to sleep apnea, such as a scalloped tongue or the inability to see the cavity behind the nose and mouth.

There are also dental problems that can result from sleep apnea. Dry mouth is a side effect of the disorder, which can cause tooth decay over time.

How Can It Be Treated?

There are orthodontic procedures that can widen the dental arch to make room for your tongue, decreasing the chances that your tongue will collapse into the airway. These include clear aligners and other expansion procedures. Additionally, there are orthodontic appliances specifically crafted to keep your airway open at night.

Another treatment option is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), a machine that is used during sleep to keep the airway open. To reduce the risk of sleep apnea, it is recommended to quit smoking, manage a healthy weight, and avoid alcohol before bed.

Contact Our Orthodontist in Creedmoor Today To Find Out More!

The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about retainers and other topics related to orthodontic treatment, feel free to contact Wilson Orthodontics, with a convenient orthodontic office in Creedmoor by calling 919.371.0384.