Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Treatment Options

Sleep Apnea North TexasDo you often experience fatigue or daytime sleepiness? Has a loved one expressed concern about how snoring could be impacting your health or, more likely, their ability to sleep?  Before you write these off, consider that the America Sleep Apnea Association estimates that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, and 80%  of moderate and severe obstructive sleep apnea cases go undiagnosed[1].

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) occurs when something partly or completely blocks your upper airway while you sleep. This blockage causes your diaphragm and chest muscles to work harder to open the obstructed airway resulting in breathing that repeatedly starts and stops. Breathing commonly resumes with a loud gasp, snort, or body jerk. However, you might not be aware of what’s occurring because the apnea alerts the brain just enough to restart the breathing process.

What Are the Risks of Sleep Apnea?
Some symptoms associated with sleep apnea such as snoring, fatigue, awaking with a dry mouth or headache, may seem to be more of an inconvenience than a serious medical concern. However, untreated OSA can raise the risk of dangerous health issues such as Type 2 diabetes, irregular heart rhythms, and high blood pressure. In addition, sufferers often experience moodiness, depression, and obesity[2].

Treatment Options
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are uniquely trained to recommend the appropriate course of action based on the severity of your OSA. Treatment options focus on preventing airway obstruction and span the spectrum from behavior modification to use of an oral appliance or air pressure machine, to surgery.

Non-surgical Options
For some, non-surgical behavior modifications such as weight loss, avoidance of alcohol before bed, and sleeping on one’s side rather than stomach or back, may provide relief. In many cases, the condition is treated with the use of a continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine or custom oral appliance. Custom-fitted oral appliances worn at night are designed to keep the lower jaw in a forward position. These appliances provide mandibular support which helps prevent oral tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway. Other patients may require a CPAP machine to maintain air pressure and keep the airway open.

Surgical Options
Surgery may become necessary if non-surgical treatments cannot provide relief. Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons can refine or remove soft tissues that cause airway blockage and /or reposition the upper and lower jaw to keep the airways open during sleep. Depending on your specific needs, your oral surgeon may recommend one of the following procedures:

Somnoplasty –  Doctors use radiofrequency energy to tighten the soft palate at the back of the throat.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) –  Soft tissue in the back of the throat and palate is removed to increase the width of the airway at the throat opening.

Hyoid Suspension – This procedure secures the hyoid bone, located above the Adam’s apple, to the thyroid cartilage to help stabilize the airway.

Mandibular/maxillary Advancement Surgery – Jaw and face bones are moved forward to create more room in the back of the throat. This procedure is generally only used for people who have severe sleep apnea and problems with their head or face.

Nasal Surgery – These operations correct obstructions in the nose, such as a deviated septum.

While surgery is a good alternative for some patients, it’s important to remember that no surgical procedure is effective in all situations.

If you have been diagnosed with OSA or are experiencing symptoms, please contact one of our four convenient office locations at Texas Oral Surgery Group to schedule a consultation.

[1] “Sleep Apnea Information for Clinicians.” SleepApnea.org, www.sleepapnea.org/learn/sleep-apnea-information-clinicians/.

[2] “Sleep Apnea.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 25 July 2018, www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sleep-apnea/symptoms-causes/syc-20377631.

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