The Sleep Benefits of Braces


When most people think about getting braces, they think of children and teens with a mouth full of metal. Fortunately, braces have evolved to include other types of braces, including clear ceramic braces and removable aligners, like Invisalign. Our older teen and adult patients now have many great options that are much more esthetic. You can reap all of the benefits of having straight teeth and a properly aligned jaw, including better airflow and a reduction in sleep apnea symptoms as well as a better smile.

How Overbites, Underbites and Crossbites Affect Sleep

If you have an overbite, underbite or crossbite, you may be self-conscious about your appearance and how people perceive you, but your physical appearance is not the only thing affected by a bad bite. In fact, if the condition is severe enough, your breathing may be impacted while you sleep. This can result in extremely loud snoring, difficulty breathing while asleep and sleep apnea in addition to other related health problems.

  • Overbites – An overbite occurs when your upper teeth rest in front of your lower teeth when you close your mouth.
  • Underbites – An underbite occurs when your lower teeth rest in front of your upper teeth when your jaw is closed.
  • Crossbites – A crossbite occurs when your teeth are tilted either towards your cheeks or toward your tongue.

Your Jaw and Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a very serious sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted while sleeping.  Sleep apnea can cause a large list of physical and psychological problems for the individual.  While there are three types of sleep apnea, the most common form is obstructive sleep apnea, which is caused by a physical blockage of the airway. One of the ways the airway can become blocked is with an improperly aligned jaw. When your jaw is not properly aligned, it can lead to the tissues of the upper or lower mouth blocking the airway, causing an obstruction. This can lead to the cessation of breathing while sleeping and a decrease in the levels of oxygen in your blood.

Orthodontic care, including braces, has been shown to help treat obstructive sleep apnea by correcting alignment problems with your jaw. When your jaw is properly aligned, your airway is less likely to become obstructed by the tissues in your mouth.

How Braces Can Help Improve Airflow and Sleep

Correcting bite problems and crooked teeth have been proven to help keep your airway clear while you sleep, which can reduce the symptoms of sleep apnea and help you breathe better at night.

Proper Positioning of the Lower Jaw

When your lower jaw is not properly aligned, it can obstruct your airway. This is usually a problem with patients with excess Overjet and their lower jaw is just too small!  Some of your muscles relax while you are sleeping which can narrow the opening of the airway. This can result in not enough air entering your lungs and you will actually stop breathing. When the bite problem is corrected, your airway will be open, and you will have an easier time breathing while you sleep so that you can feel rested and recharged in the morning.  Depending on the severity of the bite problem and the age of the patient, we may use braces alone or may use an oral appliance to help position your jaw forward.  If the problem is severe and you have severe sleep apnea, then having jaw surgery to correct the severe skeletal alignment is the best way to get the healthiest benefit from the treatment.

Easier Breathing Through the Nose

If you have a narrow upper arch, you may also have a narrow passage in your nose.  Depending on how your nose/sinus is shaped, this could be having a significant negative effect on your ability to breath easily.  Having an expander (RPE) will cause your upper jaw to increase in size and this will also increase the air volume of your sinus.  If the anatomy of your sinus was causing a negative effect on your ability to breath, having an expander will likely improve your able to breathe through your nose while you sleep. This can improve airflow and reduce snoring while helping to alleviate some of the other symptoms of sleep apnea.

Reduced Jaw Stress

Having a misaligned jaw and teeth can put stress on your jaw. You may even notice an increase in teeth grinding or clenching. This can cause jaw and neck pain as well as headaches. If you have these symptoms at night, you may have difficulty falling and staying asleep. Using braces to correct misalignments can reduce your jaw stress.

Choosing the Right Braces for Maximum Benefits

At Strickland Orthodontics, we can help you determine if braces would help you sleep better.  This is especially true if you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea and wear a CPAP device and are interested in a more permanent solution for this problem.  If we determine that you would benefit from orthodontic care to correct the alignment of your teeth and jaws, we can help you choose which types of braces or aligners would be best for you! If you have sleep apnea, we will work with your medical doctor to ensure we help provide you with the best care and final outcome.  If you have not been diagnosed with sleep apnea but are concerned with your trouble sleeping and have signs of sleep apnea, we can help refer you for a sleep study and can make recommendations on what treatment would be best for you!

To learn more about how braces can do more for your overall health than simply straightening your smile, give us a call today at 251-928-9292 or visit our website at