Orthodontic Products: It’s become more popular to treat children earlier in life. In addition to oral appliance treatment, maxillary (jaw) expansion is receiving a lot of attention.

In adults with narrow maxilla, the concept of hybrid or bone-borne expansion devices has made maxilla expansion a possibility for some who cannot have or do not want surgery.

While there is no question that we can make the maxilla wider, there is limited evidence to suggest that this approach really makes the oropharyngeal airway larger, Levine says.

Clinically, orthodontic thinking suggests making the airway larger will protect the adult or child or reduce the number of events, but that may be at odds with the research that suggests there is limited, if any correlation between airway size and severity of OSA.

Orthodontists can treat sleep apneas with mild to moderate upper and lower airway obstructions. For upper airway or nasal airway obstructions, they can expand the upper jaw to increase the width of the nasal passages. This is done with a rapid palatal expansion appliance if the patient is still young. For older patients, the orthodontist can utilize an implant supported expander or work with a surgeon for surgically assisted palatal expansion. It’s popular to use anterior mandibular positioning devices for people with lower airway obstructions, Gupta says.