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Sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. The most common symptoms of sleep apnea are a constant feeling of fatigue after a full night’s sleep and patients who snore loudly. If you are worried about yourself or a loved one with sleep apnea there are treatment options available; let’s take a closer at the different types of sleep apnea and what can help.


What is Sleep Apnea?

The most common form of sleep apnea is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which occurs when the throat muscles intermittently relax during sleep and block the airway. Central sleep apnea is caused by the brain failing to send the proper signals to the muscles, and complex sleep apnea syndrome is a combination of both. Whichever form of sleep apnea is present in a patient, it can cause a continuous stop/ start in breathing throughout the night and commonly follows snoring and the disturbance of family members.


What Causes Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles supporting the soft tissues in the throat, such as the tongue and soft palate, relax, which causes the airway to narrow or close, momentarily cutting off breathing. With central sleep apnea, the body makes no effort to breathe for short periods due to the brain stopping the transmission of signals to the muscles.

When either type of sleep apnea occurs, the brain senses the inability to breathe and briefly rouses the person from sleep to reopen the airway, leading to restless sleep, daytime fatigue, and a host of other health problems. 


Orthodontic and Surgical Solutions to Sleep Apnea

Traditionally, sleep apnea is treated with lifestyle changes, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices, or surgery. Patients would first be referred to a specialist physician who could recommend they receive orthodontist treatment to keep the airways open during sleep. 

  • Mandibular Advancing Oral Appliances – these can be used to help hold the jaw and other tissue forward.
  • Tongue-Retaining Devices – these keep the tongue and other soft tissues from relaxing and obstructing the airway.
  • Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) Machine – this machine gently pumps air into a mask worn over your mouth and nose while you sleep helping to improve your breathing whilst sleeping by stopping the airways from becoming too narrow, reducing the risk of problems such as high blood pressure linked to sleep apnea, and the overall quality of your sleep.
  • Maxillomandibular Advancement Surgery – this surgery aims to move the upper and lower jaws forward around 10 millimeters to enlarge the upper airway. For children, slow or rapid maxillary expansion surgery can help to expand the airway.
  • Early Orthodontic Intervention – for children, early intervention with orthodontics can help with abnormalities of the bone structure around the airway.


How Can an Orthodontist Help?

Malocclusion, or improper alignment of the teeth, can contribute to sleep apnea by affecting the position of the jaw and tongue. Orthodontic treatments such as braces or Invisalign, can indirectly improve airway function by ensuring the jaws are correctly aligned, therefore reducing the likelihood of airway obstruction during sleep.

By choosing the right orthodontist for you or your child you must ensure they work closely with sleep specialists and surgeons to help design a treatment to support healthy sleep, as well as understand the right orthodontic treatment for specific cases.


Chorley Orthodontics: Your Trusted Orthodontist in Chorley

If you’re seeking orthodontic treatment to help treat issues like sleep apnea, then Chorley Orthodontics is here to help. We are a specialist orthodontist in Chorley, with a team of highly qualified, experienced orthodontists and great working relationships with sleep specialists and surgeons, able to provide you with the knowledge and professional care you need.

We are an approachable and friendly orthodontist in Chorley, here to answer any questions you may have so, contact us today to book your free consultation with your expert orthodontist in Chorley and see how we can help you achieve the smile of your dreams.




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