How Orthodontic Treatment Can Help Your Sleep Apnea?

January 8, 2024

Are you tossing and turning at night, struggling to get a good night's sleep? You're not alone. Sleep apnea, a condition that disrupts your breathing while you sleep, affects millions worldwide. 

But here's a surprising twist: the solution might just lie in your mouth. Yes, you heard that right! Orthodontics, commonly associated with straightening teeth, can be a game-changer in managing sleep apnea. 

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Before diving into the role of orthodontics in managing sleep apnea, it's crucial to understand what sleep apnea is and how it affects your health. Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or periods of shallow breathing during sleep. Each pause can last from a few seconds to minutes and may occur multiple times per hour. This condition leads to a decrease in the quality of sleep and, consequently, affects overall health and well-being.

There are two main types of sleep apnea: Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Central Sleep Apnea (CSA). OSA, the more common form, occurs when the muscles in the throat relax excessively during sleep, causing a blockage in the airway. Obstructive sleep apnea is the type that orthodontics can help improve. CSA, on the other hand, involves the brain failing to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

Symptoms of sleep apnea often include loud snoring, restless sleep, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, and irritability. However, many people with sleep apnea remain undiagnosed, as they may not be aware of their breathing disruptions during sleep.

The Link Between Orthodontics and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When we think about orthodontics, images of braces and aligners designed for straightening teeth often come to mind. However, the influence of orthodontics stretches far beyond just aesthetic improvements. It ventures into the realm of sleep health, particularly in managing conditions like sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is a condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. This disruption often results from obstructions in the airway. Now, here's where orthodontics steps in. The alignment of your teeth and jaw can significantly impact your airway. Misalignments, known as malocclusions, can contribute to a narrowed airway, exacerbating sleep apnea symptoms.

Orthodontic treatments, such as braces or aligners, do more than just align teeth for a better smile; they can reposition the jaw and improve the structure of the oral cavity. This repositioning can open up the airway, reducing the obstructions that cause sleep apnea. Moreover, certain advanced orthodontic procedures can specifically target and rectify issues that lead to sleep-disordered breathing.

So, while orthodontics might initially seem like a field focused on cosmetic dental improvements, its impact on sleep apnea reveals a much deeper connection. By addressing dental alignment issues, orthodontics offers a unique and effective approach to mitigating the challenges of sleep apnea, paving the way for a night of deeper, more restful sleep.

Orthodontic Treatments for Sleep Apnea

Delving deeper into the world of orthodontics reveals a variety of treatments that can be instrumental in managing sleep apnea. These treatments aren't just about aligning teeth; they're about creating a healthier, more open airway that facilitates better breathing during sleep.

One of the most common orthodontic interventions for sleep apnea is the use of mandibular advancement devices (MADs). These devices gently reposition the lower jaw forward, enlarging the space behind the tongue and decreasing airway obstruction. This can significantly alleviate the symptoms of sleep apnea, especially in mild to moderate cases.

Another innovative approach involves the use of custom-made orthodontic appliances, such as retainers or aligners, that can adjust the positioning of teeth and jaw. This adjustment can open up the airway, reducing the likelihood of it collapsing during sleep.

For more severe cases of sleep apnea, orthodontists may collaborate with sleep specialists to provide a comprehensive treatment plan. This could include orthodontic surgery, where adjustments to the jawbone are made to permanently enlarge the airway.

In pediatric patients, early orthodontic intervention can be crucial. Techniques like palatal expansion, which widens the upper jaw, can play a significant role in preventing the development of sleep apnea as the child grows.

Each of these orthodontic solutions offers a tailored approach to managing sleep apnea, highlighting the significant role of dental health in overall sleep quality and respiratory wellness.


Here are some frequently asked questions about the relationship between orthodontics and sleep apnea. These questions will help clarify common doubts and provide more insights into how orthodontic treatment can be a viable solution for sleep apnea.

Q1: Can orthodontic treatment really cure sleep apnea?

While orthodontic treatments, such as braces or aligners, cannot 'cure' sleep apnea, they can significantly improve the condition, especially in cases where jaw misalignment or dental issues contribute to airway obstruction.

Q2: Are there specific orthodontic appliances used for sleep apnea?

Yes, there are specialized orthodontic appliances, like mandibular advancement devices, designed to help keep the airway open during sleep. These are often used in conjunction with other sleep apnea treatments.

Q3: How long does it take to see improvements in sleep apnea symptoms after starting orthodontic treatment?

The time frame varies depending on the individual's condition and the type of orthodontic treatment. Some patients may notice improvements within a few months, while others might take longer.

Q4: Is orthodontic treatment for sleep apnea covered by insurance?

Coverage varies by insurance plan. It's important to check with your insurance provider to understand what aspects of treatment may be covered under your specific plan.

Q5: Can children with sleep apnea benefit from orthodontic treatment?

Yes, early orthodontic intervention, such as palatal expanders, can be beneficial for children with sleep apnea. These treatments can help address developmental issues that might contribute to sleep apnea.

Q6: Can adults benefit from orthodontic treatments for sleep apnea, or is it more effective for children?

Both adults and children can benefit from orthodontic treatments for sleep apnea. While the approach may vary depending on age and the specific case, adults can still see significant improvements in their sleep apnea symptoms through tailored orthodontic solutions.

Q7: Are there any risks associated with using orthodontic treatments for sleep apnea?

As with any medical treatment, there are potential risks, but they are generally minimal. Common risks might include discomfort or adjustment period to orthodontic appliances. It's important to discuss these risks with your orthodontist.

Q8: How do I know if my sleep apnea is related to dental or jaw issues?

A diagnosis generally involves a sleep study, often followed by an evaluation by an orthodontist or dentist. They will assess if there are dental or jaw-related issues contributing to your sleep apnea and suggest appropriate treatments.

Q9: Is a referral from a sleep specialist required to receive orthodontic treatment for sleep apnea?

While a referral can be helpful, especially for a comprehensive treatment plan, it's not always necessary. You can often consult an orthodontist directly to discuss potential treatments for sleep apnea.

Q10: What lifestyle changes should accompany orthodontic treatments for sleep apnea for best results?

Alongside orthodontic treatments, lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol before bedtime, and sleeping on your side can enhance the effectiveness of treatment and improve overall sleep quality.

Best Orthodontic Treatment in Tucson, Arizona

As we wrap up our exploration of how orthodontic treatment can significantly improve sleep apnea, it's clear that finding the right orthodontic care is crucial. In Tucson, Arizona, Wilde Orthodontics stands at the forefront of providing top-notch orthodontic solutions.

At Wilde Orthodontics, we pride ourselves on offering the best orthodontic treatments tailored to address not only dental alignment and aesthetic concerns but also health conditions like sleep apnea. Our dedicated team of experts is committed to ensuring that your treatment plan is as individual as you are, focusing on improving your sleep quality and overall health.

If you're struggling with sleep apnea and are curious about how orthodontic treatment can help, Wilde Orthodontics is here to guide you through every step of the process. We believe in a holistic approach to orthodontics, where your smile isn't just about looks – it's about contributing to a healthier, happier you.

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