At Smile Team Orthodontics we believe all of our clients (both children and adults) should be screened before they consider orthodontic treatment. This is because our treatment recommendations may differ in the presence of sleep apnoea.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Snoring affects about 24% of men and 14% of women on a regular basis. When asleep, the muscles are relaxed and the opening at the back of the mouth can sometimes be restricted. The air that passes through this opening can vibrate between the surrounding tissues. This vibration causes a sound which we are familiar with, known as snoring.
Sleep apnea occurs when the walls to the throat close during sleep, causing breathing to stop. Once the brain registers it is not breathing, the sleeper usually wakes up, rouses, the throat opens again and they drift back to sleep. In most cases, the person affected by sleep apnea does not realise they have even woken. It also causes decreased oxygen intake. This means the brain, heart and nervous system are not receiving their required time to rest and oxygenate. The pattern can repeat itself hundreds of times every night.
One of the side effects of sleep apnea is cardiac problems. Drivers with sleep apnea have eight times the risk of car accidents. Sudden cardiac death during sleep occurs more commonly in patients who have Obstructive Sleep Apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
If you snore, it is likely you have been told about it by someone who has heard you. Sleep apnea can be a little harder to detect. Some symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Poor performance at school
- Mouth breathing
- Irritability or mood changes
- Developmental and/or growth problems
- Behavioural problems
- Witnessed breathing problems
- Poor concentration
- Day time sleepiness
- Falling asleep when driving
Types of treatment
Treatment for children
Jaw discrepancies (narrow and small) have been shown to be a potential cause of sleep apnea in children. While the jaw and bones are still growing, it is possible to manipulate jaw development to provide a more desirable and comfortable tooth and bite position. In a lot of cases this can be achieved by wearing plates and can often avoid the need for more drastic measures later in life. The use of plates in your child’s mouth can expand narrow dental arches, correct mal-positioned or small jaws, and bring bites into the correct position.
Treatment for adults
Treatment for sleeping problems, sleep apnea and snoring for adults can range from night time mouth devices, such as the ‘tongue stabilizing device’ which holds the tongue during sleep to avoid it from collapsing and blocking the airways, and night splints, which can bring the lower jaw forward to reduce the risk of soft tissue collapse. We will liaise with your sleep specialist and E.N.T specialist to ensure the right treatment is chosen for you.
Multiple specialists are required to properly treat sleep apnea. Professor Ali Darendeliler and team have worked with some of the most experienced E.N.T. surgeons and sleep specialists in Australia since 1999 to ensure each patient receives the right treatment based on evidence. Following a detailed assessment we will liaise, if necessary, with the most appropriate specialist/doctor to provide the best available treatment for you.