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Sleep Disorders – How Orthodontists can help

posted on 2-26-18

Everyone has had a bad night of sleep, whether it be from a bad dream, discomfort or simply getting to bed later than planned. Some, possibly you, have found they have a more serious issue that indicates the presence of a sleep disorder.
While sleep disorders can take a range of forms, here are a few of the more common disorders:

  • Sleep Apnea
  • REM Sleep Behavior Disorder
  • Bruxism (teeth grinding)

The size of the jaws can lead to abnormal placement of the tongue which can contribute to sleep apnea.  Narrow dental arch forms, dental cross bites, open bites, tongue thrust and enlarged tonsils are potentially associated with disordered breathing during sleep. Your orthodontist is specially trained to recognize these indicators of a potential issue.  The orthodontist might want to place an appliance to increase the size of the jaws to help with better tongue placement.

Sleeping Disorders in Adults

If you are waking up frequently during the night or if you wake up tired and exhausted, it’s easy to know that your sleep is irregular. If you are waking up with a dry mouth, sore throat, headaches, acid reflux, or exhaustion, you should consider getting an exam from your orthodontist.  Additionally, disordered sleep can contribute to memory loss, irritability, impaired alertness, and sexual dysfunction.


Sleeping Disorders in Children

Sleep disorders can occur at any age but it may be difficult to recognize when children are being affected by disordered sleep. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that 3 – 12-year-olds should get a minimum of ten hours of sleep per day, so if you know your child is struggling to get enough sleep and had discussed this with the child’s pediatrician, it might be time to also schedule a visit with your orthodontist.


Signs of Sleep Issues in Children

If your child hasn’t been vocal about any issues with their sleeping, but you suspect that a sleep disorder may be troubling them, there are some things you can look out for to confirm that an orthodontic visit could help:

While Sleeping

Snoring, gasps, snorts, or pauses in breath, trouble waking in the morning, unusual positions (e.g. hyper-extended neck), and/or excessive sweating.

While Awake

Poor school performance, hyperactivity, attention deficits, aggression, irritability, impulsivity, lack of verbal engagement, or exhaustion can all be indicators for sleep apnea in children


If you, or your child, has any of the symptoms mentioned here, please schedule a free consultation with an orthodontist in your area today. You can find a registered California Association of Orthodontists Member near you with our map tool.

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