Orthodontic Solutions for Sleep Apnea
Kenilworth, IL – Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder, affecting nearly 12 million Americans, that can have serious impacts on a patient’s life. Sleep apnea is characterized by sudden stoppages in breathing during the night. This may be accompanied by loud snoring and patients often wake up feeling tired, even after a full night’s rest.
Not only do patients who have sleep apnea suffer from lack of sleep, they are also more likely to have high blood pressure and are at a higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.
Obstructive sleep apnea is characterized by the muscles in the back of the throat relaxing, which then narrows or closes your airway as you breathe. When this occurs, you cannot get enough air and the oxygen level in your blood lowers. This triggers your brain, which then rouses you from sleep briefly as a way to encourage your body to open the airway. In the majority of patients, this small wake up is so brief they don’t even realize it has happened.
Partners of patients who have sleep apnea report instances of snorting, choking or gasping during the night, and loud snoring. These episodes can repeat multiple times each hour, sometimes even up to 30 times or more an hour. This then leads to an inability to achieve restful sleep.
The good news is, there are treatment options for sleep apnea, and help can be found at your orthodontist’s office.
Mini-screw assisted rapid palatal expansion is a non-surgical treatment used to expand the upper jaw. Palatal expansion works by expanding the maxillary bone, which then increases the volume in the nasal and oral cavities. This can then provide more room for the tongue to sit up and forward, making the airway larger. Expansion can help children who suffer from sleep apnea achieve maximum airflow during sleep and lessen the effects of sleep apnea.
Expansion widens the hard palate which is the forward part of the roof of your mouth. This is also the floor of the nasal passage, so when it is widened we are also increasing the space through which air flows through the nose. This treatment is best for children whose jaws are still growing
For older patients who suffer from sleep apnea, an orthodontist may still be able to offer relief in the form of an orthodontic appliance that is worn at night. This device fits much like a retainer would, however, its goal is to reposition the jaw to allow adequate airflow during sleep.
Dr. Michael Stosich of iDentity Orthodontics utilizes an evidence-based approach to care and warns patients that while an orthodontist such as himself may be able to offer some relief, patients should be wary of a “cure-all.”
“When I treat patients with sleep apnea, it is part of a team approach,” says Dr. Stosich. “First, a sleep study is a very valuable tool to aid us in diagnosis and in developing treatment approaches. Then, I work in conjunction with other doctors, such as ENTs, sleep specialists, and craniofacial surgeons to determine the best path forward for our patient.”
If you or your child suffer from sleep apnea and you would like a restful night’s sleep, call iDentity Orthodontics to learn how Dr. Stosich may be able to help you, 847-548-4200 (Grayslake) or 224-408-2200 (Kenilworth).