Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a class of sleep-disordered breathing that occurs when there is increased airflow resistance that causes the pharynx to collapse while sleeping. Sleep apnea causes numerous short- and long-term impacts to your health and quality of life that are exacerbated by symptoms such as loud snoring, episodes during which you stop breathing or gasp for air while asleep, awakening with a dry mouth, bruxism, morning headaches, insomnia, hypersomnia, difficulty paying attention while awake, and/or irritability.
In addition to known risk factors such as obesity or advancing age, anatomical insufficiencies of the maxilla or mandible—the upper and lower jaw, respectively—also significantly increase your chances of developing sleep apnea or other forms of sleep-disordered breathing. According to a 2010 study published in the international journal The Angle Orthodontist, researchers concluded that the primary craniofacial risk factors for sleep apnea included convex face shape (71.1% of diagnosed participants) and Class II malocclusion, or overbite (51.7% of diagnosed participants).
Non-surgical intervention can be used to treat mild to moderate causes of sleep-disordered breathing in the dental office. By carefully planning your orthodontic treatment with Invisalign aligners, Dr. Mannering is able to safely and gradually widen your upper and/or lower jaw. When crowding is reduced to create additional room in your oral cavity, more air is allowed to enter your lungs and your tongue does not obstruct your airway.
In more severe cases of sleep-disordered breathing, adjunctive therapies such as a sleep appliance or jaw surgery may be indicated. After careful consideration of your unique anatomy, these treatment options will be discussed together with Dr. Mannering and any specialists involved in your care.