Can Orthodontics Help Sleep Issues like TMJ?

For most people, when they think about orthodontics, they think of getting a perfectly straight smile. While that is the most obvious benefit of orthodontic treatment, bite problems and crooked teeth are more than just a matter of appearance. It is no secret that your body does much of its healing and repair while you are sleeping but did you know that your oral health can dramatically affect your sleep quality? If you are having trouble sleeping due to teeth grinding, sleep apnea, or snoring, there’s a good chance that orthodontic treatment can help change that. 

Along with her expert team at Stacy Wolf Orthodontics, Dr. Wolf sees many patients who are frustrated with their traditional treatment plans for sleep apnea, like CPAP machines. In many cases, we are able to create an individualized orthodontic treatment plan that gets you back to sleeping like a baby. Let’s take a look at how orthodontic treatment can help your sleep issues. 

How sleep apnea affects your health

While you sleep, your mouth and jaw muscles will relax with the rest of your body. This is totally normal, but the issue arises when you sleep on your back, causing your jaw to slide backward, narrowing the throat. As you attempt to breathe air through that restricted space, the sound of snoring is produced. Snoring is not something to ignore as it could be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea. 

Another factor affecting your snoring and sleep apnea could be related to your bite or the alignment of your jaw and how your teeth meet when you close your mouth. Bite problems are common and can be an overbite, where your upper front teeth extend over your lower front teeth, an underbite, where your lower front teeth rest in front of your upper front teeth, and then an open bite, which is when your upper and lower front teeth do not meet at all. For most people, traditional braces can correct your bite problem relatively quickly. They will also remove obstructions to create better airflow through your mouth, alleviating your snoring and sleep apnea concerns. 

For some people, you may not have actual sleep apnea but instead experience pain in and around your ear, jaw pain, temporomandibular joint pain, headaches, and difficulty chewing that can be contributed to your bite issues, as well. If this is your experience and you are at risk for sleep apnea, Dr. Wolf is ready to help you determine which orthodontic treatment plan will work best for your unique situation. The consultation is always free, and most of the hard work is done during that initial appointment so that you will be sleeping pain-free again in no time. 

Other orthodontic treatment options besides braces

Not all sleep issues are created equally, and because of that, we are able to utilize more than just traditional metal braces for some mouth and jaw issues contributing to your sleep problems. 

A Rapid Palate Expander, or RPE, is a device placed on the roof of the mouth and used to widen the upper jaw. This is typically used as a treatment for children since their mouths and palate are still not fully formed and can easily be manipulated. Frequently, when a child’s mouth does not appear wide enough to accommodate the adult teeth, this RPE can be used without braces to provide spacing support for those teeth to come in correctly. This palate expander creates space allowing better airflow through the mouth, helping ease or even prevent sleep apnea.

Another notable option is using custom oral appliances to help keep the jaw in a forward position and keep airflow unobstructed. There are two different methods of custom oral therapy that vary only slightly, with one having an extra piece to help position your tongue correctly. This is called a tongue retaining mouthpiece. The other therapy option is the mandibular advancement device which moves your lower jaw forward and tightens the soft tissues of the upper airway, preventing airway obstruction.

Can Orthodontics Help Sleep Issues like TMJ?

Your best sleep is waiting for you at Stacy Wolf Orthodontics

At Stacy Wolf Orthodontics, we are committed to providing you with the best information and the best options for your specific needs. We want you to take pride in your smile and have a lifetime of successful sleep to be the healthiest you possible. 

We know wearing braces and other oral devices can be uncomfortable, but creating a proper bite young can create excellent health in the long run. If you are facing sleep issues like sleep apnea or TMJ, give our expert team a call today to schedule your FREE consultation to get started. We look forward to helping you sleep!