Align Your Airway

Breathing Better with aligned. Orthodontics

When it comes to mouth and oral health, there’s so much more to consider than just your teeth alignment. One of the first things Dr. Vanderstelt will do at your first visit is evaluate your airway and jaw structure. But why?

Throughout your entire life, your jaw structure development will impact the health of your airway, teeth, and tongue posture. Did you know that healthy breathing requires breathing through your nose? When anatomical variations are present in the nasal passageway, jaw structure, or tongue posture, improper breathing or sleep disturbances can develop. There can be major impacts on your health and quality of life for you or your child.

Dr. Vanderstelt will create a treatment plan designed to address you as a whole, not just your teeth. We believe in a holistic approach to orthodontic treatment that brings you or your child better well-being from start to finish.

Breathe Better

When considering improving your airway, the first step is identifying whether or not there is an airway problem. We then look to discover what the root cause may be and determine potential solutions.

Treating the airway from kids to adults often requires the collaboration of a team of airway specialists, not limited to orthodontics. For kids, we evaluate a combination of their medical history, jaw structure development, and size of tonsils and adenoids. Oftentimes, children need a combination of orthodontic jaw growth modification and evaluations by other healthcare providers.

For adults, a major risk factor for sleep apnea or nasal airway resistance disorder is one or both of the jaws being underdeveloped. As an adult, growth modification is not an option since jaw growth ceases in the teen years. However, there are still options to improve the airway as an adult, sometimes in combination with other medical treatments. Some of our orthodontic treatment options include jaw surgery, minimally invasive expansion, or sleep appliances; all of which aim to open up your airway for better breathing.

Jaw Surgery

One of the major risk factors for sleep apnea or nasal airway resistance disorder is one or both of the jaws being underdeveloped. This can impact both the nasal passageway as well as the tongue obstructing the airway. Jaw surgery can reposition the jaws into a more ideal position and open up the airway for better breathing.


For children, an expander is a painless appliance glued to the teeth. The expander will widen your child’s upper jaw and nasal passageway, creating space adequate for teeth eruption and allowing for better nasal breathing and respiratory health. For adults, expanders can be used with adjunctive procedures, such as a minor out-patient surgery or ortho bone screws, where the bone sutures are reopened and the upper jaw can be widened. This too opens the nasal passageway allowing for better breathing and bite correction.


Snoring does not always indicate sleep apnea. For these instances, a nighttime oral appliance is used to advance the lower jaw to help lessen snoring. It is always advised to rule out sleep apnea before considering this appliance, as this appliance is not a recommended treatment for moderate to severe sleep apnea.