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The Connection Between Orthodontics and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea mask

Sleep apnea is a common disorder affecting millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths during sleep, causing disruptions in the normal sleep cycle. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health issues such as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke.

While there are various treatment options available for the condition, one often overlooked factor that can contribute to this condition is the alignment of the jaw and teeth. This is where the connection between orthodontics and sleep apnea comes into play.


Many people with sleep apnea have a condition called malocclusion. This refers to when the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly. This can be due to various reasons such as genetics, thumb sucking, or early loss of baby teeth. When the teeth are misaligned, the jaw may be pushed back and cause a narrowing of the airway, leading to restricted breathing during sleep.

Physical Alignment

By correcting this misalignment, orthodontic treatment can widen the airway and allow for better airflow, reducing the severity of sleep apnea. In fact, research has shown that orthodontic treatment can effectively reduce or eliminate sleep apnea symptoms in some patients.

Jaw Function

In addition to physical alignment, orthodontics can also play a role in muscle tone and strength. When the teeth are properly aligned, it can improve the overall function of the jaw muscles. This strengthens the tongue and throat muscles, which are crucial for maintaining an open airway during sleep. As a result, the risk of airway blockage and breathing interruptions is reduced.

Correcting Bad Habits

Orthodontic treatments can also correct certain habits that may contribute to sleep apnea, such as mouth breathing. When the upper and lower teeth are misaligned, it can make breathing through the nose more difficult. This forces the person to breathe through the mouth, which leads to dry mouth and throat, and ultimately increases the risk of sleep apnea. Orthodontic treatment can help correct this habit by aligning the teeth and creating more space for nasal breathing.

The connection between orthodontics and sleep apnea highlights the importance of proper jaw and teeth alignment in promoting healthy breathing during sleep. While orthodontic treatment may not completely cure the condition, it can significantly improve symptoms and help reduce the risk of more serious health issues associated with this condition. If you suffer from sleep apnea, consult our team to see if orthodontic treatment may be beneficial. Remember, a good night’s sleep is essential for overall health and well-being.

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About the Author: Robert T. Ogden, D.D.S.

Dr. Robert T. Ogden D.D.S. is an independent orthodontist serving Central Florida since 1994, and is proud to be the affordable option for local families who want straight teeth that lead to perfect smiles, all backed by a kind and friendly staff that instantly makes you feel at home. We take the time to explain all of your options, from In-Ovation C clear braces or SPEED System metal braces to clear aligners like Invisalign™. Plus, our state-of-the-art offices are designed to make your visit as fast and comfortable as possible. Schedule your free consultation today!

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