Airway orthodontics can be a game-changer if you snore or have sleep apnea. A beautiful smile may be just one of many benefits of this kind of treatment! Straightening your teeth can also improve your nighttime breathing, sleep, and sleep apnea. Orthodontic treatment isn’t just for teeth anymore!
What is airway orthodontics?
Airway orthodontics is a treatment approach that improves breathing by correcting problematic oral conditions that contribute to a restricted airway. These conditions often include crooked teeth, a narrow palate, misaligned jaw joints, and other orthopedic development issues. “Those who experience snoring and/or sleep apnea may also exhibit one or more of these oral conditions,” says Gio Iuculano, DDS. Airway orthodontics could involve one or more different types of treatments.
How does it work?
Your treatment plan depends on your specific needs. Some patients only require a gradual orthopedic realignment to help open up their airway, while others also benefit from teeth straightening. For some, laser treatment of the soft palate tissue may also provide breathing improvement.
Is airway orthodontics for children, adults, or both?
Both children and adults can benefit from airway orthodontics.
What are the benefits of this approach?
This treatment approach can help to alleviate many different symptoms of airway issues, which may include:
- ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder)
- Behavioral problems
- Daydreaming or falling asleep during normal daytime activities
- Daytime headaches, especially in the morning
- Difficulty awakening despite getting sufficient sleep
- Irritability, crankiness, or even aggressive behavior
- Mouth breathing
- A need to sleep propped up with pillows or with your head off your bed
- Restless sleep
- Sleep apnea (stopping breathing at night for 10-20 seconds at a time, then choking, gasping, and awakening)
- Snoring loudly or frequently
- Sweating profusely during sleep
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms above, tell your doctor and your dentist. Untreated sleep apnea can increase your risk of serious health issues, such as:
- Chronic fatigue
- Heart attack
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure
- Weight gain
“Of course, we work with sleep specialists and will refer patients for a sleep study before we recommend any treatment,” says Dr. Gio. “Sometimes a sleep specialist will recommend treatment with a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine. But if you’re CPAP-intolerant, a customized airway orthodontics treatment plan may help improve your apnea and snoring. And naturally, it also allows better daytime breathing. The health implications are tremendous.”