Dentistry has nine specialties, and one of them is “orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics.” Orthodontics, of course, is concerned with straightening teeth, while dentofacial orthopedics is concerned with correcting facial abnormalities that affect the jaws and/or teeth. Since a child’s bones are still growing and relatively soft and malleable, orthodontists prefer to correct facial abnormalities during childhood, for they might be able to use other options other than surgery to correct the problem.
Sleep apnea is a common and serious sleep disorder in which the patient repeatedly stops breathing while asleep. Some patients may stop breathing hundreds of times in one night. As a result, their body gets insufficient oxygen.
There are two types of sleep apnea: central and obstructive. Central is the less common type and is caused by neurological problems that prevent the brain from signaling the muscles to continue breathing. The obstructive form is caused by something, often soft tissue, blocking the patient’s airway.
How is Sleep Apnea Treated?
There are a number of treatments for this condition. If the patient has a mild case, they may be able to simply adopt healthier habits at home. For example, since obesity increases the chances of developing sleep apnea, an overweight patient will be instructed to lose weight.
The patient may also be given a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine, during which they wear a mask over their mouth and/or nose. The mask is hooked up to a device that steadily pumps air and thus keeps the patient’s airway open. CPAP is the most common treatment for sleep apnea.
How Would an Orthodontist Treat Sleep Apnea?
A common orthodontic treatment for the condition is the oral appliance which is also called the Mandibular Advancement Device (MAD). It looks like a mouth guard and is, thus, also called a “sleep apnea mouth guard.” The MAD works by forcing the jaw forward and making the upper airway larger, and it also stops the patient from snoring.
Oral appliances can be used as alternatives to both surgery and a CPAP machine. They are most effective in mild or moderate cases of sleep apnea. Oral appliances are custom-made and, thus, have to be prescribed. The mass-produced models sold over the internet are generally not effective.
Effectively Addressing Your Sleep Apnea
Talk to Dr. Lach and his team at Lach Orthodontic Specialists about your condition and how it can be corrected. As a top 1% provider for Invisalign® and the number one provider in Orlando for Invisalign®, Dr. Lach is well-versed in all things regarding orthodontics and dentofacial orthopedics. Contact us today to schedule an appointment at his office in Oviedo or Lake Nona.