Airway, Sleep Apnea and Orthodontics
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is emerging as one of the most widespread and costly health issues in the USA. OSA is known to affect more than 18 million Americans, including children, 85% of whom are undiagnosed.* The disease is characterized by upper airway obstruction, associated with repeated gaps in breathing and interrupted sleep. OSA is known to raise a person’s risk of serious medical problems such as:
- heart attack
- auto-immune disorders
Although many may not realize it, orthodontists can play a role in diagnosing and treating patients with OSA. Research is now teaching us that simple interventions such as maxillary expansion at an early age may open the upper airway, allow for greater nasal airflow, and make room for the tongue. If the tongue can move down and forward, this allows the lower jaw to grow normally and also allows for increased airflow in the back of the mouth.
In adults, creating more room for the tongue with dento-alveolar expansion and or forward repositioning of the lower jaw may increase airflow. Dr. Bockow can help evaluate the airway in three-dimensions with a special radiograph – identifying the possible areas of obstruction. This will help determine the best treatment modalities.
Sleep apnea is a serious problem. If left untreated, it can lead to other major health concerns. An orthodontist can be an important member of an interdisciplinary approach to care.
Come speak to Dr. Bockow at Seattle Smile Designs to learn more about the treatments available to you.