Sleep Apnea

How Corrective Jaw Surgery Can Treat Sleep Apnea

How Corrective Jaw Surgery Can Treat Sleep Apnea

Corrective jaw surgery, also known as orthognathic surgery, is a recommended medical intervention for people with misaligned jaws. This procedure can improve your ability to chew, speak, and breathe, all while reducing pain or discomfort caused by poor jaw alignment.

What many people don’t realize is that jaw correction surgery can also improve obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This condition, characterized by repeatedly interrupted breathing during sleep, can occur if an improperly aligned jaw impacts the muscles supporting the tongue and airway. Surgery to realign the jaws and teeth can help open up the airway and alleviate sleep apnea symptoms.

Who Needs Corrective Jaw Surgery?

Sleep apnea is not usually the primary reason to get jaw surgery. Candidates for this procedure typically have jaw deformities like underbites, deep bites, or asymmetries. Besides these traits, individuals with sleep apnea should consider this surgery if they haven’t found relief from other treatments like CPAP machines or mandibular advancement devices.

In general, the ideal candidates for jaw surgery are teenagers and young adults with jaw setbacks and no major abnormalities in their jaw structure. Older people in their 30s, 40s, and 50s can also seek sleep apnea surgery. Expect to speak with an oral surgeon about your symptoms and receive a comprehensive dental and medical evaluation to determine your eligibility.

The Procedure Explained

Corrective jaw surgery is a meticulous process. It begins with incisions in the gums to access the jaw bones. The surgeon uses specialized tools to make precise cuts in the bones. The jaws are then repositioned to their desired location, using splints for guidance. This repositioning opens up the airway and aligns the teeth and jaws correctly.

Finally, the bones are stabilized with small plates and screws, which remain unnoticeable post-surgery. The gums are then sutured back with dissolvable stitches. Note that some patients have braces when they undergo surgery. In this case, the oral surgeon works closely with the patient’s orthodontist to ensure an optimal outcome.

Recovery and Post-Operative Care

After surgery, patients typically spend a night in the hospital. Taking two weeks off to recover at home is crucial for the initial inflammation to subside. Patients are advised against strenuous activities and heavy lifting during this period. Light exercise can be resumed thereafter, but more intense physical activities, especially sports with risks of facial injuries, are prohibited until at least six weeks post-op.

A full liquid diet is also recommended for six weeks to avoid aggregating the surgical area with chewing. You’ll receive other specific instructions from your oral surgeon to guide the recovery process and ensure smooth, effective healing.

Understanding Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition where the airway is blocked by soft tissues collapsing in the throat. This leads to disrupted sleep and can cause various health issues like acid reflux, high blood pressure, increased risk of heart attack during sleep, stress and mental health issues, and frequent headaches.

People with obesity or genetic jaw abnormalities have a higher chance of developing sleep apnea. The condition is difficult to self-diagnose because the most apparent symptoms occur while you’re asleep. These include loud snoring, pauses in breathing, and choking or gasping for air. Recognizing and treating sleep apnea early is critical to prevent the associated health risks, so consider participating in a sleep study to determine if you have this condition.

How Jaw Surgery Treats Sleep Apnea

Jaw surgery moves one or both jaws forward, which enlarges the space in the throat for reduced airway blockages. This forward movement of the jaws and tongue is particularly beneficial for those with congenital jaw deformities. The surgery is deemed highly reliable and safe for most patients, resulting in easier breathing and more restful sleep.

Benefits of Jaw Surgery

The benefits of corrective jaw surgery as a sleep apnea treatment are substantial. Here’s what to expect:

  • Permanent relief from sleep apnea symptoms, leading to better sleep and reduced health risks without the need for a CPAP machine or oral devices
  • Less painful procedure compared to other corrective oral surgeries like isolated soft palate surgery
  • More youthful and symmetrical facial appearance without significantly altering the bite pattern

Choose Austin Oral Surgery for Sleep Apnea Treatment

Austin Oral Surgery has over 50 years of experience delivering superior, individualized care. We operate out of 12 convenient locations throughout Central Texas, staffed by a team of 16 board-certified oral surgeons. Patient comfort is our utmost concern, so we provide a safe and compassionate environment for all our procedures. Are you or a loved one considering corrective jaw surgery for sleep apnea? We invite you to schedule a consultation with us in Austin, Pflugerville, Cedar Park, Lakeway, or any of our other Central Texas locations. We’ll explain the process thoroughly and help you determine if corrective jaw surgery is right for you.