Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Last month we published an article on Peak Performance & Breathing. As part of a continuing dialog on the impact and importance of Orthodontics on breathing, we present this discussion on Obstructive Sleep Apnea. At Forever Smiles we encourage patients to learn more about oral systemic health and how we improve their wellbeing and standard of care through orthodontics.

Do you or someone you know suffer from daytime sleepiness, have difficulty concentrating in school or sometimes feel cranky? You might think it’s time for a Snickers (which are terrible on braces btw), but maybe not. Sleep disorders impact as many as 30 percent of teens and pre-adolescents and it is estimated that as many as 10 percent can suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tissue at the back of the throat collapses during sleep keeping air from getting to the lungs. It can happen a few times per hour, or as many as several hundred times per night! Imagine, these pauses in breathing waking you up every time, disturbing your sleep. While you may be thinking you’re sleeping a lot, in fact, this disturbed sleep amounts to only a few hours of fit sleep per night.

Dr. Yan Razdolsky and the Forever Smiles team see a lot of patients with airway problems. They study facial growth, development and airway passages, so they are eminently qualified to help screen patients for OSA issues and strongly recommend early orthodontic screenings as early as age 7. The causes of OSA are varied, and can range from a soft tissue obstruction to palatal development or even jaw alignment. It has even been discovered that as many as 50 percent of OSA cases involve the bony structure that surrounds the airway. Through upper arch expansion and by advancing the mandible, or jaw bone, an orthodontist can sometimes address the underlying cause of OSA. The earlier the treatment plan, the better the potential outcome for the patient.

“Using the latest digital imaging technology and orthodontic tools we can identify, treat and potentially prevent sleep-related breathing disorders in children,” said Dr. Razdolsky. “We may even be able to reverse the condition in adolescents and adults.”

Getting 8.5 to 11 hours of quality sleep, depending on age, is essential to healthy growth, development and function. Not getting enough sleep can impact focus, cause sluggishness and irritability. Sleep deprivation can also affect overall health, weight and even your complexion. Although there are a lot of studies and literature on sleep related issues, it is often surprising how little of it is directed to the child or teen. These patients know first-hand what the symptoms may feel like and are often the first at recognizing their own issues. So, if you find that you or someone you know is suffering from symptoms mentioned here on a regular basis, and a Snickers just doesn’t seem to satisfy… talk to Dr. Razdolsky or a Forever Smiles member. A good night’s sleep is a beautiful thing.