Resorting to oral surgery for sleep apnea might sound dramatic, but it’s often necessary when non-invasive methods do not work to relieve symptoms. It’s important to understand how dangerous sleep apnea is for your health and consult with both your doctor and oral surgeon to formulate a comprehensive plan for treatment.
Sleep Apnea Is a Health Threat
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that obstructive sleep apnea affects 18 million adults. When you fall asleep, do you frequently wake up gasping for air? Do you snore loudly? These are two of the most common symptoms, but there are other signs this could affect you as well. If you frequently feel tired during the day or have headaches regularly, it could be related to a lack of quality sleep because of obstructive sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea causes the tissues in the back of the throat to collapse and block your airway while you sleep. Your brain wakes up just enough to restart breathing. Usually, this happens after your body hasn’t taken a breath in over a minute, and it can happen up to 500 times per night. Thus, you are never able to fully enter and stay in a deep sleep cycle.
Obstructive sleep apnea’s taxing effect on the body means you’re at a higher risk of heart attack and stroke. You may also be more prone to developing Type 2 diabetes, liver problems and elevated blood pressure.
Conservative Treatments First
If symptoms aren’t extreme, your doctor may recommend using an oral appliance to keep your mouth tissues in place during sleep. They can also prescribe a CPAP machine to deliver oxygen all night. You may also be advised to lose weight if this is a contributing factor.
Surgical Procedures Help
If none of the above strategies works, a surgical procedure could reduce the symptoms of this condition through physiological alterations.
A UPP procedure shortens the soft palate by removing a portion of the uvula. Reducing the amount of soft tissue in the mouth leaves more space for airflow. This is one of the most common types of oral surgery for sleep apnea.
This procedure anchors the neck’s hyoid bone to the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple). This clears a larger space and stabilizes the airway.
Genioglossus advancement (GAA)
Commonly performed with either a UPP or hyoid suspension, this procedure shortens and subsequently tightens the tongue’s front tendon so it is less likely to collapse during sleep and block the air passage.
Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA):
This procedure is the most dramatic of all the options, moving the upper and lower jaws as well as the mouth’s soft tissues forward to open the airway. This is recommended in patients who do not have enough space to facilitate clear breathing during sleep.
Is Surgery Right for You?
If you’ve exhausted all other sleep apnea treatments, it might be time to explore oral surgery for sleep apnea. At Richmond Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, we support you in exploring all options to relieve sleep apnea symptoms permanently. It’s good for your health, both today and for the long term.