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Why would I need surgery for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that can have a negative impact on your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Our Kamloops dentists explain the condition and offer guidance on when dental surgery might be required.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder that is characterized by brief but often frequent interruptions during sleep.

The palatal tissues vibrate when your airway becomes partially blocked, producing the sound we all recognize as snoring. When the airway is completely blocked for long periods of time, obstructive sleep apnea occurs.

As you might expect, this condition has a negative impact on patients' physical, mental, and emotional health. Oral appliances and CPAP machines are two of the many treatment options available. Surgery may be recommended in some cases. In a moment, we'll explain why.

How can sleep apnea impact my health?

Are you tired but unable to sleep? Sleep apnea is a serious mental and physical health condition that can cause a variety of symptoms, ranging from disrupted sleep in the short term to putting you at risk for cardiovascular disease, depression, and premature death in the long run.

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
  • Irritability
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Problems with memory, or memory loss
  • Depression

As many people are aware, snoring can disrupt a spouse's sleep. However, finding the right treatment method that considers the needs of the patient and effectively resolves this medical condition remains a possibility.

How is sleep apnea treated?

There are many treatments for sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, your dentist may recommend:

Oral Appliances

We can recommend custom-fitted oral appliances to help keep your airway open by shifting your tongue and lower jaw muscles. This improves airflow and keeps you from waking up in the middle of the night.

CPAP Machine

These electronic devices, also known as Continuous Positive Air Pressure Machines, use an internal fan to draw air inside. The air is then humidified and pressurized before being delivered to the user via a connective base and face mask, through which they breathe.

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.

Do you have questions about sleep apnea treatments and how they can help? Our Kamloops dentists can assess and possibly give you a referral. Contact us today!

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