Obstructive sleep apnea can interfere with your ability to get a full night of restful sleep because the frequent brief pauses in breathing disrupts your sleep, even if you’re not aware they’re happening. If you are experiencing symptoms of sleep apnea, such as daytime drowsiness, loud snoring or frequent sore throats or headaches upon waking, you should undergo a sleep study to confirm the diagnosis, which will then give you the opportunity to pursue treatment.
Patients with sleep apnea may consult with an oral surgeon to learn about the interventions that may help to eliminate their symptoms. The conditions responsible for the frequent airway obstruction may lie in the positioning of the jaw or tongue, so the expertise of these dental specialists can be particularly valuable in determining how to proceed.
The oral surgeon may not initially pursue an invasive intervention for sleep apnea. Some patients respond well to oral appliance therapy, in which a device is worn during sleep to hold the jaw or tongue forward so that the soft tissues at the back of the throat can’t collapse and cover up the airway opening.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks force air into the airway to keep it open and are highly effective at eliminating sleep apnea. However, many patients find the masks excessively cumbersome and end up not wearing them as directed.
In certain circumstances, a surgical intervention may be indicated for sleep apnea. For example, if a jaw defect makes the patient more prone to sleep apnea or if the patient has not gotten the desired results from more conservative measures, surgery may be needed. Sometimes, it can be helpful to excise excess soft tissue at the rear of the throat to reduce sleep apnea symptoms.
Getting a good night’s sleep is essential for your overall well-being. If you have sleep apnea, you will need to get treatment for that condition in order to improve the quality of your sleep. Contact our office to schedule an evaluation and get more information on possible treatment options.