Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that can impact your physical, emotional and mental health. Our Penticton dentists explain the disorder and provide insight on when dental surgery may be necessary.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder that is characterized by brief but often frequent interruptions during sleep.
If your airway becomes partially blocked, the palatal tissues vibrate, producing the sound we all know and recognize as snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is completely blocked for periods.
As you might expect, this condition significantly worsens the patients' physical, mental, and emotional well-being. There are numerous treatment options available, such as CPAP machines and oral appliances. Surgery might be suggested in unusual circumstances. In a moment, we'll explain why.
How can sleep apnea impact my health?
Can't sleep but feel exhausted? A variety of serious mental and physical health conditions, including sleep apnea, can result in a variety of symptoms, including interrupted sleep in the short term and an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, depression, and ultimately, early death.
Symptoms of sleep apnea
Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can put you at risk for numerous health conditions, including:
- Lack of energy
- Awakening with a headache or dry mouth
- Extremely loud snoring
- Cardiovascular disease
- Heart attack
- Problems with memory, or memory loss
As many people are aware, snoring can interfere with a spouse's ability to sleep. Finding the best course of action to address this medical condition while taking the patient's needs into account offers some hope, though.
How is sleep apnea treated?
There are many successful treatments for sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, your dentist may recommend:
To ensure that the airway remains open, we can provide or suggest specially designed oral appliances that move your tongue and lower jaw muscles. This promotes airflow and keeps you from waking up in the middle of the night.
These electronic devices, also referred to as Continuous Positive Air Pressure Machines, draw air inside using an internal fan. After that, the air is pressurized and humidified before being delivered to the user through a connective base and face mask, which they inhale.
At Eckhardt Dental Centre, we practise non-invasive dentistry and reserve surgery for extreme circumstances in which other treatments, such as oral appliances or lifestyle modifications, have failed.
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 dentist may recommend a less common one depending on your case and requirements.