Sleep Apnea and Orthodontics

One of the emerging fields of study in the orthodontic community is sleep apnea.  Dental professionals are in a perfect position to help screen for sleep apnea, because we see our patients so regularly.  Sleep apnea is an important topic, not only because it is a significant quality-of-life issue, but it is a serious health concern and can even shorten your life. Our Experts in the Art of Orthodontics would be happy to discuss treatment options with you.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition that causes people to stop breathing while sleeping. It happens when the airway collapses, often due to relaxed muscles in an already constricted airway. When the brain registers that there is a lack of oxygen, the sleeper wakes out of deep sleep enough for the airway to open and make it possible to take a breath, but may not reach full consciousness. By the end of the night, a sleep apnea sufferer can be roused from deep sleep perhaps hundreds of times without even knowing it.  Sleep apnea leads to mental fogginess, unrested mornings, exhaustion throughout the day, and is very hard on the heart.

How do I know if I have it?

Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include snoring, bruxism tooth grinding during sleep, a scalloped border of the tongue, trouble waking up in the morning, and excessive daytime sleepiness.  Sleep apnea can also create ADHD-like symptoms in kids.  A sleep study is the best way to confirm sleep apnea and determine its severity.

What’s the Best Treatment for My Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a medical condition, and the first step is to speak to a medical professional regarding your condition.   An ENT or sleep medicine doctor can evaluate the severity, frequency, and cause of the apneic episodes.  Sleep apnea can have many contributors.  Your treatment will be based on your individual case, and might include an orthodontic component.  For moderate to severe cases, a CPAP machine or oral surgery are possible options. For mild to moderate cases, a mandibular positioning appliance might be sufficient.  An appliance of this type moves the jaw forward to open the airway during sleep.

Our Experts in the Art of Orthodontics at Bankhead will work closely with your medical doctor to devise and carry out the best plan for you, so please let us know if you would like to schedule a consultation.


If you or your child need orthodontic treatment, work with the experts at Bankhead Orthodontic Specialists. Serving the St. Louis, MO, Metro area as well as southeastern Illinois via six convenient locations, these trained specialists offer traditional, lingual and clear braces as well as Invisalign® to provide patients with highly customized solutions. Call (636) 978-8848 today to schedule a consultation, and visit the website for more information about braces.

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