Braces are well-known for helping people achieve better smiles, but they can also be used to improve other aspects of your life. If you're struggling to get a good night's sleep, your oral health may be contributing to the problem. Here are a few ways braces can improve your sleep.
Open Up Airways
A common reason people have trouble getting good rest is that they're suffering from sleep apnea. Affecting over 18 million adults in the US, this disorder is characterized by repeated stops in breathing during the night. These stoppages are typically caused by blockages in the airways caused by oral tissues collapsing into the throat. However, misalignments in the teeth and jaw can also inhibit proper breathing.
For instance, if the jaw is not properly aligned, it could make it easier for the upper or lower tissues in the back of the mouth to fall into the air passageway. Sometimes the misalignment may result in a narrowing of the airway, increasing the likelihood for breathing stoppages.
Braces, coupled with other dental treatments, can force the teeth and jaw into their proper positions ensuring oral tissues remain in their proper place. This, in turn, may reduce the instance of breathing interruptions so you can get a good night's sleep.
Be aware, though, that it will take time to see results. Depending on the severity of the misalignment, it can take up to 24 months to get the teeth and jaw into the right alignment. However, you should experience a gradual lessening of apnea symptoms as you move closer and closer to your treatment end date.
Reduce Teeth Grinding
Teeth grinding is another cause of poor sleep. Officially known as bruxism, teeth grinding is just as it sounds: the clenching and/or grinding of teeth. It commonly occurs at night while sufferers are sleeping, but it can also occur on an unconscious basis during the day. If you frequently experience facial pain, headaches, stiffness in the jaw joints, and experience a sudden increase in tooth sensitivity, you may be suffering from bruxism.
Like with sleep apnea, bruxism can be caused by misalignment of the oral structures. Improperly positioned teeth can put stress on your jaw, while a jaw that doesn't line up correctly may make you unconsciously clench your teeth together to hold the mouth in its proper place. By realigning the teeth and jaw using braces, you lessen these issues, which can alleviate or eliminate the grinding problem.
It should be noted that there are many causes of bruxism, and it's possible your problem may be the result of several factors. It's important to address all the issues that may be contributing to your disorder to maximize your chances of successfully overcoming the problem.
Fix a Sinus Problem
A third issue that could be disturbing your sleep is blocked sinuses. While these types of blockages are commonly caused by diseases such as colds and allergies, misshapen nasal passages can also be the source of your inability to breathe properly and suffering disturbed sleep as a result. For instance, narrow nasal passages may make it harder for air to pass through, which can contribute to snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.
If the misshapen nasal passages are caused by a narrow arch in the upper teeth, using braces to move the teeth outward may widen the area and the airway, allowing for a greater volume of air to pass through. This may reduce snoring and other issues related to obstructed airways to allow you to sleep better at night and wake rested in the morning.
For more information about these issues or to learn about other dental solutions that may help improve your sleep, contact a dentist at a clinic such as Twin Cities Dental.