Resorting to oral surgery may sound dramatic when it comes to sleep apnea, but it can be a good idea when non-invasive methods do not succeed. In this post, our dentists at Toothworks King-York Dental discuss how oral surgery for sleep apnea works and how it treats the condition.
If you frequently feel tired throughout the day or have headaches regularly, it could be due to a lack of quality sleep. Waking up gasping for air or heavy snoring during sleep are usually the most common signs of sleep apnea, but there can be others too.
With sleep apnea, your brain wakes up just enough to restart breathing. This normally happens if you're body hasn't taken a breath in about a minute or so. And it could happen up to 500 times a night. Thus, you are never able to enter a state of truly deep sleep.
With sleep apnea, you could be at a higher risk for heart attack and stroke. You might also be prone to Type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure, and liver problems.
Non-Invasive Procedures First
To keep your mouth tissues in place, your doctor may advise you to use an oral appliance. They may also advise you to use a CPAP machine at night to help you breathe. Weight is another factor that can contribute to sleep apnea. If you are overweight, your doctor will most likely advise you to lose weight as a treatment option.
If the non-invasive options don't help with sleep apnea, then your doctor may recommend surgery to help alleviate the condition. The good news is that there are many effective procedures to help treat sleep apnea. These include:
A portion of the uvula is removed during a UPPP procedure to shorten the soft palate. This is one of the most common procedures used to treat sleep apnea. This reduction in soft tissue allows for more airflow.
With a hyoid suspension, the neck’s hyoid bone anchors to the thyroid cartilage, or Adam's apple. This creates a larger space and stabilizes the airway.
Genioglossus Advancement (GA)
A Genioglossus Advancement (GA) is commonly performed with a UPPP or hyoid suspension. This surgery shortens and tightens the tongue's front tendon so it's less likely to collapse during sleep and cause the airway to become blocked.
Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA)
The maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) procedure is the most invasive of the available options. The MMA moves the upper and lower jaws, as well as the soft tissues of the mouth, forward to open the airway. This is typically only recommended for patients who do not meet the criteria for the other surgeries listed above. Those who do not have enough space in their mouth to breathe clearly may be candidates for this surgery.
Is surgery the right choice for me?
The only time you should consider sleep apnea surgery is when you've exhausted all other options and the sleep apnea persists. Still, your doctor is the best person to speak to about your treatment options.