As most everybody knows, an orthodontist is the type of dentist responsible for putting on braces. But what you may not know is that an orthodontist can help to treat more than just crooked teeth. If you would like to learn more about the role of orthodontics in health, read on. This article will present two disorders an orthodontist can help treat.

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a type of sleeping disorder characterized by shallow, infrequent, or paused breathing. It causes the level of carbon dioxide in the blood to rise. This in turn causes the sleep to wake up in order to begin breathing correctly. As a result, one of the main symptoms of sleep apnea is excessive daytime sleepiness. 

Orthodontists can help treat sleep apnea through the implementation of special oral devices. Also known as oral appliances, this type of device works by pushing the jaw and tongue forward, thus improving airflow by increasing the size of the airway. In addition, the use of such devices reduces the likelihood of airway tissue collapsing and cutting off breathing when you inhale.

One of the most commonly prescribed oral devices is known as the mandibular repositioning device, or MRD. This device fits inside of the mouth, where it helps to keep the airways open while you sleep. To be effective and safe, an MRD must be fit for your mouth by an orthodontist with experience working with these devices. 

Speech Impediments

Dental malocclusion is the technical name for teeth that are crooked and/or don't fit together correctly. While in most cases this remains more of a cosmetic issue, extreme malocclusion may lead to a number of disorders, including speech impediments. Because malocclusion causes the mouth to be misaligned, it increases the difficulty of pronouncing certain sounds--especially the letters d, n, and t.

These sounds are more challenging to make because they require a very specific placement of the tongue inside the mouth, and for individuals with misaligned teeth this can be a difficult task. Yet when crooked teeth are straightened by means of orthodontics, the tongue once again has the room that it needs to form more complex sounds.

Over time, the improper tongue placements caused by misaligned teeth will become habitual, making them much more difficult to correct. Therefore, the sooner a speech impediment can be addressed through orthodontics, the better. In fact, it is generally agreed that regular orthodontic checkups (from specialists such as those from Wright Center For Orthodontics) should begin as early as seven years old, in order to prevent serious problems from arising.