Can Orthodontics prevent sleep apnea?
Yes, Orthodontic treatment can prevent sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea is caused by a number of factors. One of the main causes is the anatomy of the jaw structure of the individual. Narrow jaws and receded or underdeveloped jaws cause the tongue to be pushed back into the airway during sleep and this prevents normal breathing. When we are not getting adequate air and in order to compensate for the lack of air we open our mouth to breath. This makes the tongue to move and thus causing the snoring sound. Snoring can be seen in patients as young as three years old to mature adults. In growing children enlarged tonsils and adenoids can narrow the airways further exacerbating sleep apnea. A combination of enlarged tonsils and narrow jaws causes sleep apnea and if this is not corrected early it affects the health.
In adult patients, a person maybe overweight and have a lot of fatty tissue in their neck that when relaxed in sleep pushes on the throat because of gravity closing off the airway. These factors singly or in combination cause us to stop breathing from time to time. Many studies have shown that sleep apnea in adults can lead to high blood pressure, heart failure or irregular heartbeat, diabetes, and obesity. All this is because when you stop breathing, the level of oxygen in the blood decreases to a point that the organs of your body have a hard time functioning.
Thus having orthodontic treatment to expand the arches and removing the obstructions such as tonsils and adenoids can prevent sleep apnea and improve overall health. Orthodontics is not just to get a pretty smile but it also gives health.