Can oral surgery treat sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which you actually stop breathing for a short period of time, usually multiple times during the night. It severely disrupts your sleep schedule, making it difficult if not impossible to get enough rest. There are several ways to treat sleep apnea. For some cases, oral surgery provides a permanent and effective solution.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which you awaken multiple times during the night—sometimes literally hundreds of times—because you stop breathing. It can be difficult to diagnose because the symptoms are varied, and usually you don’t realize you have a problem until someone else notices you waking up during the night.

Apnea is most frequently caused by an obstruction, such as an anomaly in the structure of the soft palate that allows it to block your airways. Some symptoms of sleep apnea include:

If left untreated, apnea can increase your risk of heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, and clinical depression. It can also lead to motor vehicle accidents, inability to perform work tasks, and overall decrease in your quality of life as you struggle to function with insufficient sleep.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

There is a variety of treatments for sleep apnea, including use of a CPAP machine, wearing a mouthguard at night, or even oral surgery. The most common treatments include:

CPAP machine—maintains steady airflow throughout the night, keeping your airways open

Dental appliance or mouthguard—helps keep the soft palate from obstructing your airways

Oral surgery—changes the shape of the soft palate or jaw to increase airflow and reduce obstruction

Typically, your doctor or dentist will try less invasive approaches before recommending oral surgery. However, if your apnea is due to a physical obstruction in your throat, a problem with the structure of your jaw, or a deviated septum, you should consult with an oral surgeon to determine the best course of treatment. 

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