Beyond Straight Teeth: Exploring the Benefits of Airway Orthodontics

Beyond Straight Teeth: Exploring the Benefits of Airway Orthodontics

TeamBraces - Orthodontics

A straight, beautiful smile, along with a healthy, functional bite is the most well-known goal of orthodontic treatment. However, orthodontic treatment can also provide incredible benefits to overall health, by treating conditions such as snoring, mouth breathing, and obstructive sleep apnea. Orthodontic treatment for these breathing disorders is known as airway orthodontics. Read on for what you need to know about the benefits of airway orthodontics.

What Causes Breathing Disorders While Sleeping?

Breathing disorders such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, and mouth breathing all share a common culprit: a restricted airway.  The airway may be restricted due to orthodontic conditions such as:

  • Bite problem (malocclusion)
  • Narrow palate (roof of the mouth)
  • Crooked teeth
  • Crowded teeth
  • Misaligned jaw

Obstructive sleep apnea, which often causes symptoms including snoring and mouth breathing, is frequently due to relaxing muscles in the throat. In patients with a narrow palate, the relaxing muscles including the tongue often partially block the airway.

Orthodontic conditions such as overbites are often to blame for sleep-disordered breathing such as snoring. This occurs when the lower jaw is significantly recessed, and pinches or narrows the airway.

Mouth breathing often results from a bite issue, such as a crossbite or open bite, which may be inherited traits. Other bite issues may result from prolonged oral habits, such as thumb-sucking or finger-sucking.

Symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing

Signs and symptoms of a restricted airway while sleeping include:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Waking up gasping
  • Waking up choking
  • Snoring
  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • Behavioral issues in children
  • Hoarseness
  • Dry mouth
  • Bad breath

Airway Orthodontics: Treatments Available

Orthodontists can often treat a restricted airway nonsurgically with treatments including:

  • Palate Expander (Palatal Expander Device)

    This oral appliance widens the palate bit by bit over months so that when the muscles relax during sleep, they do not block the airway.

  • Growth Modification

    Growth modification applinaces are used for young patients while the bones are still growing. These devices can correct the shape, length, width, or position of the jawbone to ensure the airway remains free from obstruction while sleeping. 

  • Braces

    Metal braces and clear Damon braces can correct malocclusions that narrow the airway while sleeping.

  • Clear Aligners

    Like braces, clear aligners such as Invisalign or Spark aligners can correct crowded and crooked teeth that may restrict breathing while sleeping. 

The majority of patients who suffer from sleep-disordered breathing can be successfully treated with airway orthodontics. In some cases, such as a skeletal problem within the jaw, surgery may be necessary. If the airway is restricted due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids, surgery may also be required to remove them.

Complications of Restricted Breathing While Sleeping

Restrictions to the airway can contribute to serious oral health and overall health risks, including:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Poor growth
  • Facial structure abnormalities
  • Gum disease
  • Increased risk of high blood pressure
  • Increased risk of stroke
  • Increased risk of heart disease
  • Increased risk of Type 2 Diabetes
  • Increased risk of reduced blood oxygen (hypoxia)

Frequently Asked Questions

Will airway orthodontics be covered by insurance?

Many dental plans offer coverage for orthodontic treatment. Confirm your policy’s specific coverage by contacting your insurance carrier. Here in Castle Hills 3D orthodontics we can verify your insurance benefits.

How long will my child need a palate expander?

Treatment with a palate expander may range from a few weeks to several months. In rare cases, the device may need to be in place for up to one year.

Schedule a Consultation for Airway Orthodontic Treatment in Lewisville, TX

If you or your child are suffering from symptoms of a restricted airway/snoring while sleeping, schedule a consultation at Castle Hills 3D Orthodontics in Lewisville, TX by calling 469-598-1700. You may also send us a message to request an orthodontic consultation.