Oral surgery to address sleep apnea can be an effective solution when non-invasive methods do not succeed. In this post, our Winnipeg dentists 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. Gasping for air until you wake suddenly, or heavy snoring during sleep are usually the most common signs of sleep apnea - but of course, there can be others.
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
Your doctor may recommend using an oral appliance to keep your mouth tissues in place. They may also prescribe a CPAP machine to help you breathe at night. Weight can be a contributing factor to sleep apnea too. If you are overweight, your doctor will likely recommend that you lose weight as a treatment method.
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 UPPP procedure shortens the soft palette by removing a portion of the uvula. This is one of the most common surgeries for treating sleep apnea. Reducing this amount of soft tissue leaves more room for 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) is probably the most invasive of all the options available. With the MMA, the upper and lower jaws, as well as the mouth’s soft tissues, are moved forward to open the airway. This is normally only recommended to patients who don't qualify for the other surgeries listed above. Those who do not have enough space in their mouth to facilitate clear breathing 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 still persists. Still, your doctor is the best person to speak to about your treatment options.