Can braces treat sleep apnea? A surprising number of patients who have difficulty breathing at night can benefit from orthodontic treatments. During your consultation at Aviara Centers, our expert doctors can diagnose and treat obstructive sleep apnea. Breathing disorders can affect children and adults of all ages. If you or a family member snore at night or exhibit any symptoms of sleep apnea, this overview can explain the potential benefits of orthodontic treatments for sleep apnea.

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is the most common form of sleep apnea. An estimated 22 million Americans have some form of sleep apnea, according to the National Sleep Foundation. OSA occurs when a physical obstruction (usually the tongue) blocks the airway, which results in disrupted breathing at night. 

Risk factors for OSA include:

  • Obesity
  • Large tonsils
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of sleep apnea
  • Gender (Males are more likely to have OSA)
  • Tobacco use

Symptoms of OSA include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Daytime drowsiness
  • High blood pressure
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Sore throat
  • Frequent headaches

How can orthodontics treat breathing disorders?  

Patients who have an overbite are at an increased risk of experiencing obstructive sleep apnea. A severe overbite can lead to a recessed lower jaw, which can cause the tongue to slip back toward the throat at night. When the tongue comes into contact with the throat, the airway can become temporarily blocked. 

Overbite is usually the result of malocclusion of the teeth. Patients who suffer from OSA can benefit from orthodontic treatments that create more space for the tongue to rest while the patient sleeps at night. 

How do I know if orthodontics can treat my OSA symptoms?

During your consultation at Aviara Centers, one of our esteemed doctors will examine your teeth and jawbone alignment to determine if you can benefit from orthodontic treatments. Dr. Rita Chuang is a Board-certified orthodontist, and Dr. Katherine Ahn Wallace (Dr. Ahn) has advanced pediatric and sleep-related breathing disorder training.

Aviara Centers focuses on:

  • ALF (Advanced Lightwire Functional) Appliance
  • Advanced Growth Guidance
  • Osseo-Restoration Appliance
  • Myobrace + Myofunctional Therapy
  • Functional Frenuloplasty (Laser Assisted)

Depending on the underlying cause of your symptoms, patients may benefit from a custom oral appliance. The device positions the jaws and tongue to allow for ease of breathing at night. Beyond recommending orthodontic treatments or the use of an oral appliance, one of our doctors may discuss home remedies and lifestyle habits that can aid in reducing your symptoms. Patients can often benefit from avoiding sleeping on their back, losing weight, or cutting out alcohol consumption before sleeping.

Risks for untreated OSA

Sleep apnea causes a wide range of health-related problems. Daytime drowsiness can impede workplace efficiency. The sudden drop in oxygen levels that result from sleep apnea can strain the heart and increase the risk of hypertension and heart disease. Nighttime breathing disorders have been linked to elevated risk for heart attack, stroke, and coronary artery disease.

Early intervention can improve a patient’s long-term health outcomes. If you snore loudly enough to wake your partner, or if you periodically wake at night feeling short of breath, you should seek professional medical care.   

Schedule Your Orthodontic Treatment Today

OSA is a serious medical condition that can be treated at Aviara Centers. Undergoing orthodontic treatment can lead to other benefits, such as a reduction in jaw pain and a more attractive smile. To schedule your orthodontic treatment, please call our office at (714) 786-1364.