Addressing problems in the mouth have much further implications than just straight teeth and chewing. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is another issue that can be traced to orthodontic treatment as well. Functional orthodontics can help prevent these sleep problems too. Obstructive sleep apnea can occur when a person lies down to go to sleep and the tongue is pushed too far back and it blocks the airway which causes no airflow during sleep. This blockage restricts oxygen to the brain and either wakes the person up or causes them to change positions so that air can flow. An apnea is defined as one of these events that occurs when the person stops breathing for ten seconds or more. This can continue to occur throughout the night. Depending on how many apneas a person has, apnea is classified as mild, moderate, or severe. In children any apnea is considered serious as this can progress with age. It is well known that OSA affects the heart and can cause cardiovascular stress leading to heart attacks or even strokes. So how does orthodontics and ones mouth affect these issues? In childhood, OSA can occur due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids or anything else that causes mouthbreathing. A young person with a narrow upper jaw and developing overbite is a typical OSA person. If this is corrected with functional orthodontics, not conventional orthodontics by widening the constricted upper jaw and freeing up the lower jaw to move forward to a more ideal position the chaces for OSA are greatly reduced.
We see these issues all the time in our office, many presenting with TMJ pain as another consequence of this problem. It is really sad as these problems can be prevented. In short, proper orthodontic treatment can prevent TMJ and OSA in young patients by: 1) Widening the upper arch to ideal arch form 2) Ascertain that any airway obstructions are taken care of 3) Allow the lower jaw to grow forward to relate to the properly widen upper jaw If you have any questions regarding Houston Dental Sleep Appliances, Houston TMJ or Houston Cosmetic Dentistry, please feel free to contact our office, Ronald W. Konig DDS, FAGD, LVIF 713-668-2289