Braces are a common orthodontic treatment, but did you know they can also be used to treat sleep apnea? In this article, we’ll explore how braces can help alleviate sleep apnea symptoms and improve your overall quality of life. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep.
These interruptions can occur hundreds of times each night, severely disrupting sleep and leading to a range of health problems, including high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke. Braces have long been a popular and effective treatment option for various dental issues. They are primarily used to correct misalignments and irregularities in teeth and jaws, providing patients with improved oral health and a beautiful smile. This article aims to introduce the concept of using braces as a treatment option, highlighting their benefits and addressing common concerns.
Types of Sleep Apnea
1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): This is the most common form of sleep apnea and occurs when the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse during sleep, blocking the airway. It is often associated with obesity, nasal congestion, or anatomical abnormalities.
2. Central Sleep Apnea: In this type, the brain fails to transmit proper signals to the muscles that control breathing, resulting in interrupted breathing patterns. Central sleep apnea is typically caused by problems with the central nervous system.
3. Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: Also known as treatment-emergent central sleep apnea, this type is a combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. It is usually observed in individuals who initially had obstructive sleep apnea but developed central sleep apnea after receiving treatment with a CPAP machine.
Obstructive sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder that causes you to stop breathing during sleep.
– Mayo Clinic Staff
The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Braces
Now, you might be wondering, “What does sleep apnea have to do with braces?” The answer lies in the structure and alignment of your mouth and jaw. Misalignment of the teeth and jaw, known as malocclusion, can contribute to the development of sleep apnea. Malocclusion can cause the tongue and lower jaw to fall back into the throat during sleep, blocking the airway and causing apnea episodes. Braces, by correcting malocclusion, can help to alleviate this problem.
Types of Braces for Sleep Apnea
There are different types of braces that can be used to address sleep apnea, each designed to work in a specific way to help keep the airway open during sleep. Here is a brief overview:
- Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs): These devices look similar to mouth guards used in sports. They snap over the upper and lower dental arches and have metal hinges that connect the two pieces. This design allows the lower jaw to be moved forward, which helps to keep the airway open.
- Tongue Retaining Mouthpieces: These braces work by holding the tongue in place to prevent it from blocking the airway. They can be custom-made by a orthodontist or purchased over the counter.
- Palatal Expansion Braces: These braces work by gradually widening the upper jaw to increase the size of the nasal and oral passages, therefore, improving breathing and reducing or eliminating sleep apnea symptoms.
It is important to note that while braces can help to alleviate sleep apnea symptoms, they are not a cure and should be used in conjunction with other treatments recommended by your healthcare provider. Additionally, it is crucial that any oral appliance used for sleep apnea is fitted and adjusted by a trained professional to ensure it is effective and does not cause further complications.
Oral appliances can be a highly effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
– American Academy of Sleep Medicine
What to Expect
If you are considering braces as a treatment for sleep apnea, it is essential to consult with a qualified dental professional specializing in sleep medicine. During the initial consultation, the orthodontist will evaluate your condition and discuss the suitability of braces for your specific needs. They will assess factors such as the severity of your sleep apnea, your dental structure, and any existing dental issues.
Once fitted with braces, it may take a short adjustment period to get used to wearing them during sleep. However, most individuals find them comfortable, and the positive effects on sleep quality become evident within a few nights. The orthodontist will provide instructions on how to properly insert and remove the braces, as well as how to clean and care for them.
Regular follow-up visits with the dental professional are crucial to monitor the progress and make any necessary adjustments to ensure long-term success in treating sleep apnea. These visits also allow the orthodontist to assess the effectiveness of the braces and address any concerns or issues that may arise.
Braces for sleep apnea offer a promising alternative to CPAP machines, providing effective treatment for individuals suffering from various types of sleep apnea. By improving sleep quality, reducing snoring, increasing energy levels, and offering a non-invasive and customized solution, braces have become a popular choice for sleep apnea patients. If you struggle with sleep apnea, consult with a dental professional to explore the benefits of braces and take a step towards better sleep and overall well-being.
Are you ready to explore braces as a solution for sleep apnea? Bill Redmond Orthodontics in Laguna Niguel specializes in offering personalized and effective treatment plans. Contact us today to schedule a consultation, and let our experienced team help you find the best path to a restful night’s sleep. Your journey to better health and well-being starts with Redmond Orthodontics. Reach out to us now!
Dr. Bill Redmond is a native of Southern California, the son of an orthodontist and the husband of a general dentist. That makes family gatherings pretty interesting…if you like teeth!