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Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition that causes you to stop breathing during sleep. Many people are unaware that they even suffer from it since it happens during the night. The disorder can lead to many health problems, and some risk factors include orthodontic issues. Our expert for Invisalign® in Richmond, VA, explains these below.
There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central sleep apnea is caused by a dysfunction in your central nervous system. Obstructive sleep apnea is the more common type of sleep apnea. With both, your breathing is stopped during the night due to a collapse of the soft tissues in your throat, obstructing your airway and therefore, the transfer of oxygen to your brain. Complications include high blood pressure, increased stroke risk, and decreased blood oxygen levels. In addition, sleep apnea is also bad for your dental health. Common risk factors for obstructive sleep apnea include:
It may be difficult to determine that you have sleep apnea, but some symptoms include:
Your partner may notice that you stop breathing or snore during the night. If you have any of these symptoms, you should be checked by our doctor.
A small jaw has been linked to increased incidence of sleep apnea. With a small jaw or small mouth, there simply isn’t enough room for your tongue. During sleep, your tongue will be pushed into your airway, blocking your breathing. Our orthodontist can also see other problems related to sleep apnea, such as a scalloped tongue or the inability to see the cavity behind the nose and mouth.
There are also dental problems that can result from sleep apnea. Dry mouth is a side effect of the disorder, which can cause tooth decay over time.
There are orthodontic procedures that can widen the dental arch to make room for your tongue, decreasing the chances that your tongue will collapse into the airway. These include clear aligners and other expansion procedures. Additionally, there are orthodontic appliances specifically crafted to keep your airway open at night.
Another treatment option is CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure), a machine that is used during sleep to keep the airway open. To reduce the risk of sleep apnea, it is recommended to quit smoking, manage a healthy weight, and avoid alcohol before bed.
The information provided in this article is not meant to be medical advice and is for educational purposes only. If you would like to learn more about this and other topics related to orthodontics, feel free to contact White Orthodontics, with a convenient orthodontic office for braces or Invisalign in Richmond, VA, by clicking here or by calling 804.715.1998.