Have you been diagnosed with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea? If you are a patient at the Yuba City Dentistry Group, your dentist and sleep apnea specialist are no doubt working to find you the best treatment possible.
In some cases, that treatment includes using orthodontics.
How Orthodontics Can Help
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat of some patients relax, narrowing or closing the airway and restricting the amount of incoming air. The brain recognizes that you’re not getting enough air and briefly wakes you, in an attempt to reopen your airway.
Often times, the shape of the mouth, throat and tongue affect the ability of the patient to breathe while sleeping, leading to sleep apnea. By means of orthodontic treatment (together with your body’s own growth processes), your dentist can increase the room inside of the mouth.
The result? Drastically improved air flow and an improvement in your condition.
The Tongue’s Role in Sleep Apnea
When you sleep on your back, the tongue naturally falls to a downward position. This is usually no problem, as the mouth is large enough to accommodate the tongue in this position. However, depending on the shape and size of your mouth, it’s possible that the tongue actually blocks the air passage, leading to sleep apnea.
In many of these cases, orthodontic treatment may be used to enlarge the space inside your mouth and change its shape, eliminating the root causes of sleep apnea.
Why Orthodontics for Sleep Apnea?
In some cases of sleep apnea, your dentist may simply recommend the use of a removable oral appliance. However, standard oral appliances don’t address the underlying structural problems that lead to sleep apnea. Rather, they simply mitigate symptoms by changing the position of the tongue, teeth, and/or jaws in relation to each other.
In contrast, more extensive orthodontic treatments work to increase the size of the oral cavity and correct structural problems like overcrowded and misaligned teeth; these irregularities contribute to a small jaw and reduced air space.
Finding the Best Solution for You
At the Yuba City Dentistry Group, our dentists and sleep apnea specialist work together to carefully consider your individual situation and circumstances. By thorough examination, testing, and consultation, they can help you decide if orthodontics is the right choice to solve your sleep apnea.