Sleep apnea is a disorder that impacts your breathing and can affect your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing. Here, our Smithers dentists explain what this disorder is and provide some insight as to how dental care—and even surgery—may be helpful.
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a serious disorder affecting your breathing which is characterized by frequent interruptions during your 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 of time.
As you may be able to imagine, this condition comes with significant impacts on your physical, mental and emotional health. There are a wide variety of treatment options available, including CPAP machines and oral appliances to combat this condition. In certain cases your dentist may even recommend surgery.
How can sleep apnea impact my health?
Tired, but can't sleep? Sleep apnea can lead to a range of serious mental and physical health conditions that can cause several symptoms, from interrupted sleep in the short term to leaving you at risk for cardiovascular disease, depression and eventually, premature 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 know, snoring can also cause sleeping issues for someone sharing your bed or room. However, there is hope. When finding the right treatment method which address a patients' needs, this medical condition can be effectively resolved.
How is sleep apnea treated?
There are many successful treatments for sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, your dentist may recommend:
We are able to offer oral appliances which are custom-fitted to shift your lower jaw muscles and tongue to make sure that your airway remains open all night. This will help with your airflow and stop you from being woken during the night.
Known as Continuous Positive Air Pressure Machines, these electronic devices use an internal fan to draw air inside. The air is then humidified and pressurized before being sent to the user through a connective base and face mask, which they breathe through.
At Driftwood Dental, we take a non-invasive approach to dental care, reserving surgery for rare cases that can’t be successfully treated with other methods such as oral appliances or lifestyle changes.
Do I need sleep apnea surgery?
If no other treatments for sleep apnea have been successful, one or more different surgeries may be recommended. these can include:
- Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction. Which straightens a bent or deviated nasal septum.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). Which removes and repositions excess tissues in your throat in order to widen your airway.
- Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction (RFVTR). Which tightens and shrinks tissues in and around your throat to open your airway.
- Hyoid Suspension. Which pulls the hyoid bone, which is located in your neck, forward and secures it in place. This enlarged the space you have for breathing in your lower throat.
- Maxillomandibular osteotomy (MMO) and advancement (MMA). Which is 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.