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Improving Sleep Problems with Orthodontics

sleep problems


Sleep is the one function humans can’t go without to stay healthy. Most people are concerned about the total hours of shut-eye they get each night, but may not realize that sleep quality is just as important as sleep length. Often sleep problems lead to poor quality sleep rather than a lack of sleep.

What are Sleep Problems?

Mouth Breathing

Breathing through your mouth rather than your nose can cause a range of oral health problems. Because your teeth are exposed to air rather than saliva all night, you are at a much higher risk of cavities because bacteria isn’t being washed from the mouth.

The soft tissue in the mouth is dry which can lead to red and inflamed gums and even bleeding gums. Chronic bad breath is another symptom of mouth breathing.

Sleep difficulties can occur because mouth breathing may not deliver enough oxygen to the lungs at night causing you to wake regularly.

Teeth Grinding

If you clench or grind your teeth in your sleep you are more likely to suffer from a sleep disorder. Also known as nocturnal teeth grinding, bruxium is a common problem that can be caused by stress, snoring, fatigue, sleep apnea as well as alcohol, caffeine and smoking.

Chronic bruxism can cause damage to the teeth, jaw pain, headaches and earaches.


Temporomandibular joint Disorder (TMD) – the joint that allows you to eat and speak and connects the jaw to your skull. Symptoms of the disorder include aching pain in front of an ear, locked jaw, clicking noise when opening your mouth or chewing food and pain in the jaw.


The Health Effects of Poor Sleep

Poor sleep can impact a person’s general health, quality of life, mood and performance at work or school. In children, poor sleep can result in poor behavior and schoolwork which can lead to an incorrect diagnosis of learning difficulty and behavior-related conditions such as ADHD and autism.


How Orthodontics Can Improve Sleep

Some orthodontic treatments can significantly improve sleep problems. Research and practice in this area is still emerging but shows real potential.

Mouth Breathing – Children, in particular, may breathe through their mouth rather than their nose because they can’t close their lips entirely due to the position of their jaw, a bite that is off or teeth that protrude. Orthodontic treatment can ensure that a child’s mouth naturally closes at night so they can breathe through their nose.

Orthodontics such as braces can also treat the signs of mouth breathing such as the overbite and gummy smile.

Sleep Bruxism – wearing a retainer or guard at night can protect teeth from damage as you grind at night. Correcting a bite can protect the teeth from the excessive wear and tear that bruxism can do to teeth.

Temporomandibular joint Disorder (TMD) – An uneven bite may be the cause of TMD so orthodontic treatment to fix the bite could see improvements in the joint. Teeth grinding and clenching can also cause TMD so a mouth guard worn at night can improve the bruxism and TMD. Jaw-strengthening exercises also improve the condition.

If you are experiencing problems with sleep, make an appointment to see a sleep professional who may be able to diagnose the type and cause of your sleep trouble. They can advise if your problem could be helped with orthodontic treatment. You can always call/text our office for a free consultation at (918) 492-4822.

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