Sleep apnea, which leads a person to briefly stop breathing during sleep, can have serious consequences. Patients with sleep apnea may be at a higher risk for heart disease, high blood pressure or stroke. The disease can even lead to fatal complications in some instances.
In the majority of cases, sleep apnea occurs when the air passages are obstructed during sleep. Reversing sleep apnea, then, requires that the airway remain open during sleep.
Patients with sleep apnea have access to a number of treatment options, some of which will involve an oral surgeon. A doctor decides on the appropriate treatment based on the severity, characteristics and patterns of the sleep apnea.
Before an oral surgeon can intervene to address sleep apnea, the patient must first have a confirmed diagnosis of the condition. In order to diagnose sleep apnea, a doctor must thoroughly examine the patient, which will include a skull x-ray and a naso-pharyngeal exam.
Additionally, patients must undergo a sleep study before a sleep apnea diagnosis can be confirmed.
After the sleep apnea diagnosis has been established, the process of planning treatment for the condition can begin.
Patients can turn to different methods for relief from sleep apnea. Some patients opt for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) masks that forces air pressure into the mouth during sleep. However, CPAP masks can be uncomfortable and cumbersome, so some patients want to research other options.
Oral appliances may also be effective in eliminating sleep apnea. These devices are worn at night in order to keep the jaw in a position that prevents the soft tissues at the rear of the mouth from covering up the airway opening.
When other methods have failed, oral surgery may provide a solution. Possible surgical strategies include removing a portion of the palate, surgically repositioning the jaws or reducing nasal airway resistance.
Oral surgery for sleep apnea does typically involve a general anesthetic, but it may not require a trip to the hospital. The procedures can be performed in an oral surgeon’s office, as long as the facility is equipped with hospital-grade equipment and amenities.
Patients who suspect they may have sleep apnea should consult with an oral surgeon when other treatments have failed. Doing so could have a major impact on their health.
To learn more and to schedule your consultation, contact Dallas Oral Surgery Associates today.