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Eur J Orthod. 2009 Apr;31(2):160-7. doi: 10.1093/ejo/cjn061. Epub 2008 Nov 20.

Dental arch morphology in children with sleep-disordered breathing.

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Department of Oral and Maxillofacial, Oulu University Hospital, Oys, Finland.


The aim of the present study was to examine the effects of nocturnal breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and snoring on developing dental arches. The study group comprised 41 children (22 males, 19 females, mean age 7.2 years, standard deviation 1.93) with diagnosed OSA. Age- and gender-matched groups of 41 snoring and 41 non-obstructed control children were selected. Orthodontic examination was carried out and dental impressions were taken. Malocclusions were diagnosed clinically and 13 linear variables were measured from the dental casts. The differences between the dental arch measurements of the OSA, snoring, and control groups were studied using analysis of variance followed by Duncan's multiple comparison method. Children with diagnosed OSA had a significantly increased overjet, a reduced overbite, and narrower upper and shorter lower dental arches when compared with the controls. Snoring children had similar but not as significant differences as OSA children when compared with the controls. There were more children with an anterior open bite (AOB) in the OSA group (P=0.016) and with a Class II or asymmetric molar relationship in the groups of OSA (P=0.013) and snoring (P=0.004) subjects compared with the non-obstructed controls. There were more subjects with mandibular crowding (P=0.002) and with an AOB (P=0.019) with an increasing obstructive apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI). These findings are in agreement with previous studies of the effects of increased upper airway resistance on dental arch morphology and can be explained by long-term changes in the position of the head, mandible, and tongue in order to maintain airway adequacy during sleep.

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