Can Crooked Teeth Cause Sleep Apnea?

Many patients want to see a change in their smile if they have crooked teeth. There is a lot of pressure to have the perfect smile. However, crooked teeth are more than just a cosmetic issue. Researchers link crooked teeth to other dental and health issues. For example, crooked teeth can be a factor for developing sleep apnea. 

Can Crooked Teeth Cause Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea and Crooked Teeth: Causes and Consequences

Sleep apnea is a disorder that affects your breathing as you sleep. The most common form of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. When you sleep, the muscles in the back of your throat relax too much. This can block your airway, causing pauses in breathing. Lack of oxygen while you sleep can lead to several issues that disrupt your life and health. Some major health concerns include heart attack, stroke, and sudden death. At the very least, it can cause irritability and daytime fatigue. 

There are many reasons why someone might develop crooked teeth. You may have genetic factors that cause your teeth to grow crooked or become misaligned. Additionally, childhood habits, such as thumb-sucking or using a pacifier, can contribute to crooked teeth. You may also have insufficient space in your mouth for your teeth. Crooked teeth can lead to difficulties chewing, speech impediments, or an increased risk of cavities and gum disease. 

The Airway Obstruction Connection

So, how do these two seemingly unrelated issues connect? The issue lies with alignment. Your teeth and jaws should sit together a certain way. If your teeth are crooked, your mouth may not sit properly. 

Crooked teeth can impact the alignment of your jaw, which may affect your airway. An improperly aligned jaw can actually lead to a narrowing of the airway. Unfortunately, this can increase your likelihood of airway obstructions during sleep. 

Another way your teeth can affect your breathing concerns the soft tissues. Crooked teeth can change the position of your tongue and other soft tissues in your mouth. Because of your teeth, these tissues can encroach on your airway. As a result, you may not be able to breathe as well. In fact, this is how obstructive sleep apnea occurs. Having crooked teeth or misaligned jaws can exacerbate this blockage. Therefore, it can further narrow the airway’s passage. 

A Two-Way Street

The relationship between crooked teeth and sleep apnea is not a one-sided issue. While crooked teeth can increase the risk of sleep apnea, the disrupted sleep patterns caused by sleep apnea can also worsen misalignment. This can affect jaw growth and development.

Seeking Solutions: Addressing Both Issues

If crooked teeth are contributing to or exacerbating sleep apnea, you can seek out orthodontic treatments. This solution can help solve or improve both issues. Braces or clear aligners can correct tooth alignment. As a result, this can potentially widen the airway and reduce the risk of obstructive sleep apnea.

You may also ask your dentist about oral appliance therapy. This is a device that fits in your mouth while you sleep. It will keep your jaw aligned and keep your tongue in place.


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