Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, is a condition that blocks the airway when the throat muscles become too relaxed. According to The American Sleep Apnea Association, it is estimated that about 3% of children will develop OSA. While an orthodontist cannot diagnose and fully treat this condition, orthodontists and orthodontic treatment can play a beneficial role in detecting and treating this condition. Read on to learn more about combating OSA with orthodontic treatments.
Recognizing Symptoms of the Condition
Orthodontists play a huge role in diagnosing OSA in patients. Many patients have no idea that they may be suffering from OSA until an orthodontist starts working with them and recognizing some of the signs of this condition in their patients. If an orthodontist recognizes these signs, they are able to perform an assessment that screens for obstructive sleep apnea.
Changing the Position of the Teeth
Once a patient has been diagnosed with OSA, orthodontic treatment may happen that can help to improve the symptoms the patient is experiencing. An orthodontist can use braces, aligners, or trays to change the position of the teeth. This can help prevent the tongue from blocking the throat during sleep.
Prescribing Devices For Sleep
Another treatment that an orthopedist can use to help those with OSA is by creating special devices, known as oral mandibular advancement devices, that patients can wear at night. These devices help to place the jaw in a favorable position when someone with OSA is sleeping. Pushing the lower jaw forward helps to keep the airway open during sleep as the throat muscles relax. While this doesn’t treat the condition, it helps to keep patients who have this condition safer as they sleep.
If an orthodontist believes that you or your child may be suffering from OSA, they will recommend that you also seek treatment from a medical professional. A medical professional can diagnose the condition as well and may work hand-in-hand with an orthodontist to help treat the condition. Orthodontic treatment, including changing the position of the teeth and keeping the jaw in a favorable position during sleep, can be beneficial to patients suffering from this condition. Schedule an appointment with us today to learn more about combating OSA with orthodontic treatment.