Many adults and children suffer from sleep apnea and snoring. Sleep apnea is a disorder that is characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last from a few seconds to minutes, and may occur as many as 30 times or more an hour.
Symptoms may be present for many years without identification, during which time the patient may become conditioned to the daytime sleepiness and fatigue associated with significant levels of sleep disturbance. Snoring and/or sudden episodes of gasping for air during night-time sleep may be indications of sleep apnea disorder. Sleep apnea is often a multi-factorial condition that can result from abnormal anatomical conditions such as narrow airway, small mandible (lower jaw), narrow maxilla (upper jaw), excess body weight, or from excessive alcohol consumption and/or substance abuse, as well as central nervous system issues.
Dr. Nassiri evaluates his patient’s skeletal and airway anatomies and will recommend treatment if indicated. Mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea can be successfully managed with night-time appliance wear (retainer type appliances) that move the patient’s mandible into a forward position, hence increasing the effective airway size and allowing for better oxygen supply to the lungs and brain.
In other cases, Dr. Nassiri may recommend orthodontic treatment involving palatal expansion and braces to increase space for the tongue and air flow. In severe cases, surgical intervention, such as mandibular advancement surgery, surgically assisted palatal expansion, or maxillomandibular advancement surgery maybe indicated. When surgical intervention is indicated, simultaneous orthodontic treatment will often be needed in order to insure a functional bite and an esthetically pleasing result. CPAP machines that force oxygen follow during sleep can also be effective in mitigating some the symptoms of sleep apnea for moderate to severe cases.