Orthodontics and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Respiratory Disorders are a continuum of disruptions in the body’s ventilatory airflow. They are characterized by increasing obstruction of the upper airways that results in snoring turning into apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is defined in adults by a decrease of more than 90% in airflow for at least ten seconds.

In children, apneas are also defined by a decrease of more than 90% in airflow but during two respiratory cycles. Understanding how sleep apnea and dentistry coexists should be discussed during a first consult at a local Broomfield Orthodontics clinic.

Obstructive sleep apnea syndrome in children

The severity of obstructive sleep apnea is quantified by the frequency of respiratory events per hour of sleep, also known as the “Hypopnoea Apnea Index” (AHI). If the child’s sleep is explored by polysomnography (PSG), the OSA is considered mild if the AHI is between 1 and 5. If it is between 5 and 10, OSA is considered moderate.

If there are more than 10 events per hour of sleep, the patient’s OSA is considered severe. At this point, a consult with a Broomfield Orthodontics professional is necessary.


In most cases, obstructive sleep apnea syndromes are due to insufficient development of the nasopharyngeal canal. Apart from all particular pathologies and to schematize these complex mechanisms, orthodontists look at the orthopedic side of this growth insufficiency. Pathologies that change the shape or thickness of soft tissue will be treated by doctors, pediatricians, ENT, pneumo-pediatricians, etc.

Close collaboration with each is, therefore, mandatory. The tongue, at rest, along with other functions, tends to lean against the back of the mouth. This spreads the two jaws apart, thus, causing bouts of snoring.

In addition to palatal growth, this issue widens the nasal canal. If the nose is too often clogged (otitis, rhinitis, and so on), the tongue sits down in the mouth and no longer plays a major role. Speaking with an Invisalign provider in Broomfield may be a viable solution to eliminating this problem.

This means that nasal sections may not grow sufficiently. The child will turn to oral ventilation more and more, which means his or her transversal growth will be insufficient. The airway becomes hollow and narrow.

During sleep, the lung mass does not pull the tracheal tree down. During inhalation, the tongue can be sucked backward and come to obstruct the oropharynx, otherwise known as sleep apnea. People have to breathe through a soft, tight passage, and sometimes this passage is blocked for one reason or another. For more details, contact a local Orthondontics provider in Broomfield today.


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