We screen all our patients for signs of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and its early warning signs. We refer patients to the proper medical colleagues for the primary diagnosis and treatment of the root causes of OSA. As orthodontics, we often correct the effects that OSA and airway restrictions have on people’s teeth and their bites. Sometimes, we are called upon to be partnered with oral surgeons for the surgical corrections of certain jaw deficiencies that can “cure” certain types of OSA. These are especially satisfying to be part of.
Airway issues can contribute to excessive wear of front teeth and temporomandibular disorders, “TMJ”. In patients where these problems are linked, we have found that the OSA needs to be addressed for the proper management of these conditions.
What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB)?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when the airway closes sufficiently during sleep and breathing stops. This triggers release of cortisol (the “fight or flight” or “survival” stress hormone) that increases heart rate and activates muscles to force breathing. Although the person doesn’t actually wake, they are driven from deep restorative sleep to “catch their breath”. Once they begin to relax to the deeper levels of sleep, it happens all over again.
This is hard on the body, imagine running a race all night long. You wake up exhausted and unrested, but more importantly, prolonged levels of increased cortisol negatively affects the immune system, normal hormone production, insulin function, gastric acid production, learning and memory retrieval, and a host of other organs and body functions.
Symptoms of OSA & SDB
- Mouth Breathing
- Enlarged Tonsils/ Adenoids
- Facial & Jaw Deformities
- Restless Sleep & Drowsiness During the Day
- Short Attention Span or ADD/ADHD
- Bed Wetting
- High Blood Pressure
- Acid Reflux