When people stop breathing while they sleep it’s called sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea develops when the soft tissues at the back of the throat collapse and cover up the opening to the airway. This condition is marked by numerous symptoms, including repeated pauses in breathing during the night and excessive snoring. Additionally, patients who have sleep apnea may notice that they have issues like daytime drowsiness, morning headaches and dry or sore throat upon waking.
Not only does sleep apnea interfere with the patient’s sleep, it can also increase risks of serious health conditions like stroke and heart attacks. Fortunately, oral surgeons can provide effective treatments for sleep apnea to improve a patient’s well-being and decrease health risks associated with the condition.
First, the patient must undergo a sleep study to confirm that obstructive sleep apnea is present. If another condition is mimicking sleep apnea’s effects, treatment designed to address the apnea won’t be effective. The continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask, which essentially forces air into the airway, is a highly effective treatment for sleep apnea, but many patient’s find that they do not tolerate it well and they often discontinue its use.
For patients who get little relief from more conservative measures, the oral surgeon may consider a different intervention. Sleep apnea surgery may focus on repositioning the jaws to open the airway, and eliminate the need for CPAP.
Sleep apnea has significant consequences for your quality of life and your well-being. To get relief from your symptoms and reduce your chances of the negative risks associated with sleep apnea, discuss your treatment options with one of our oral surgeons.