The breathing disorder sleep apnea can impact your emotional, mental and physical health. Our orthodontic specialists in Etobicoke explain the disorder and provide insight on when dental surgery might be needed.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder is marked by brief but often frequent interruptions during sleep.
If your airway is partially blocked, the palatal tissues vibrate, producing the sound we all know and recognize as snoring. When the airway is completely blocked for periods of time, obstructive sleep apnea occurs.
As you might imagine, this condition significantly negatively impacts the mental, emotional and physical health of patients. Many treatment options are available, including oral appliances and CPAP machines. Surgery may be recommended for rare cases. We'll explain why in a bit.
How can sleep apnea impact my health?
Are you still suffering from lack of sleep, even though you're tired? Sleep apnea can lead to numerous serious physical and mental health conditions that trigger several symptoms, from interrupted sleep in the short term to leaving you at risk for depression, cardiovascular disease and eventually, premature death.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
Untreated obstructive sleep apnea can leave you at risk for numerous health conditions, such as:
- Extremely loud snoring
- Awakening with headache or dry mouth
- Lack of energy
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attack
- Problems with memory, or memory loss
As many know, snoring can also cause sleep problems for a spouse. However, there is hope in finding the right treatment method that considers the patient's needs and effectively resolves this medical condition.
How is sleep apnea treated?
There are many successful treatments for sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, your orthodontic specialist may recommend:
We can recommend custom-fitted oral appliances to shift your tongue and lower jaw muscles to ensure the airway stays open. This helps airflow and prevents you from waking during the night.
Known as Continuous Positive Air Pressure Machines, these electronic devices use an internal fan to draw air inside. The air is then humidified and pressurized before being sent to the user through a connective base and face mask, which they breathe through.
At Etobicoke Orthodontics & Oral Surgery, we take a non-invasive approach to dental care, reserving surgery for rare cases that can’t be successfully treated with other methods such as oral appliances or lifestyle changes.
Do I need sleep apnea surgery?
If no other treatment options have worked, one or more surgeries may be recommended. Surgical options include:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) to remove and reposition excess tissue in the throat and widen the airway.
- Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction (RFVTR) to shrink and tighten tissues in and around the throat.
- Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction to straighten a bent or deviated nasal septum.
- Hyoid Suspension to pull the hyoid bone (located in the neck) forward and secure it in place, enlarging the space for breathing in your lower throat.
- Maxillomandibular osteotomy (MMO) and advancement (MMA) for people with severe sleep apnea. The bones of the jaws are cut and will heal over months.
These are a few surgical procedures that may effectively treat sleep apnea. Your orthodontic specialist may recommend a less common one depending on your case and requirements.