Most people are familiar with orthodontists as being the dentists who fit retainers and put braces on crooked teeth. Yet the role of the orthodontist goes well beyond just the teeth. If you are interested in learning more about the effect of orthodontics on overall health, read on. This article will introduce you to two non-dental disorders that orthodontics can help fix.
Teeth that don't fit together properly because they are crooked is a condition referred to as dental malocclusion. Most of the time, dental malocclusion is simply a cosmetic issue. But in extreme cases, it may play a direct role in certain speech impediments. That's because, when the mouth is improperly aligned, it becomes much more difficult to sound certain consonants--most notably, n, t, and d.
These letters pose a particular challenge due to the fact that they involve a precise orientation of the tongue inside of the dental cavity. For those with severe dental malocclusion, such precision is not always possible. Yet through orthodontic intervention, whether braces or some other prosthesis, the tongue can once again be given the space it needs.
When treating speech impediments in this way, however, it is important to realize the important role that timing plays. You see, what begins as a simple misalignment will eventually turn into a habitual muscular response--in other words, an issue that cannot be treated by orthodontics alone. Thus, in order to forestall more serious problems, it is important to address speech impediments as soon as possible.
Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder whose primary symptoms are shallow, labored, or periodically interrupted breathing. These irregular breathing patterns lead to the increase of carbon dioxide levels in the blood. As a result, affected individuals often wake repeatedly during the night, in order to restore proper breathing. Thus, a principal sign of sleep apnea is an excessive degree of sleepiness during the day.
Sleep apnea can be successfully treated by means of special orthodontic devices often referred to as oral appliances. These work by physically altering the angle of the jaw, so that the diameter of the airway is increased. This greatly reduces the patterns of interrupted breathing that characterize sleep apnea.
A mandibular advancement device is the oral appliance most commonly used to treat sleep apnea. This device is seated inside the mouth, where it places the jaws in an orientation specifically designed to move the base of the tongue away from your airway. In order to be truly effective, a mandibular advancement device must be sized precisely for your mouth by an orthodontist.
To learn more, contact an orthodontist like Dr. Neil H. Shapera.