Your Orthodontist Can Treat Sleep Apnea

my wife says I snore at night
Thomas, the patient
Dear Dr. S.,
My wife says I snore at night, and I’ve been waking up not feeling rested at night. My wife is worried I might have sleep apnea, and thinks an orthodontist might be able to help me. I think she’s crazy – how can an orthodontist help a snoring problem?

Sincerely,
James M.

Dr. Michael Stosich

Dear James,
It might sound crazy, but your wife is right – an orthodontist can absolutely help with a snoring problem! And if you suffer from sleep apnea, it’s something you don’t want to ignore.

Sleep apnea affects your breathing during sleep. Your breath becomes shallow and might even stop for short periods of time during the night. When this happens, it disrupts your sleep, which might be why you are waking up feeling like you didn’t have a good night’s sleep.

So how can an orthodontist like me help you? I’m part of an advanced sleep apnea team at the University of Chicago School of Medicine, comprised of the best specialists and surgeons dedicated to alleviating sleep apnea in the patients we treat.

After a lap sleep study, a professional will determine if you suffer from sleep apnea. If you do, you’ll schedule a consultation with your orthodontist to determine the best course of action.

Orthodontic treatment is a great way to achieve permanent results. A custom created orthodontic appliance, similar to a retainer or Mouthguard, may be the answer to your problems. It works to ensure your airway stays open the entire night, offering you a restful night’s sleep.

Sincerely,
Dr. S.

Sarah, the patient
Dear Dr. S.,
I think my daughter may have sleep apnea. She snores really loudly during the night, and I’ve noticed she seems really tired in the mornings. Her doctor has recommended we try a CPAP machine, but I’m worried this might cause even more interruption to her sleep. A friend suggested we consult with her orthodontist. How can you help?

Sincerely,
Marianne D.

Dr. Michael Stosich

Dear Marianne,
Sleep apnea is very serious condition, so it’s important that you seek help for your daughter right away. It is relatively common in children, but can be hard to recognize. Children who suffer from sleep apnea may have extremely loud snoring, begin to sleep in strange positions, sweat excessively at night, suffer from bedwetting and even experience night terrors.

Studies of children who suffer from sleep apnea have shown that pediatric sleep apnea if most commonly associated with oral-facial growth, and that an orthodontist is the best person to address these issues and help your child overcome the condition.

Why is that? It’s because we have the unique knowledge about how the jaw, face, teeth and tissues of the mouth work together. And that means we can more easily pinpoint an issue that may be causing the child’s airway to close at night, and then offer the best solutions to correct the issue.

A continuous positive airway pressure, or CPAP, mask, used to be the go-to treatment for sleep apnea. The mask is worn at night, and it covers the nose and mouth. It continuously pumps oxygen to ensure the airway stays open.

While it is a great treatment, it doesn’t get to the root of the problem, and won’t help your child overcome sleep apnea. Orthodontic treatment can be the solution that can help your child get a better night’s sleep. But the only way to know for sure is to schedule a consultation with me, or your local orthodontist.

Sincerely,
Dr. S.

AUTHOR: Michael Stosich

Michael S. Stosich, DMD, MS, MS, is a specialist orthodontist for children and adults with subspecialty expertise in robotically assisted orthodontics. Dr. Stosich serves as the orthodontic director at the University of Chicago's cleft lip and palate clinic and craniofacial anomalies clinic, which treats complex pediatric craniofacial anomalies.