How Oral Surgery Can Help with Symptoms of Sleep Apnea

Posted on 2/8/2021 by Andrew Horowitz, DMD, MD, FACS
How Oral Surgery Can Help with Symptoms of Sleep ApneaSleep apnea is a common condition that millions of Americans struggle with. Read on to learn more about sleep apnea, its symptoms, and how we can treat it.

What is Sleep Apnea?

There are different types of sleep apnea. The most common type is obstructive sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles of your throat relax and block your airway. Another type of sleep apnea is central sleep apnea, which occurs when your brain does not send the proper signals to your muscles that control breathing. In rare cases, people can have complex sleep apnea, which is a mix of both obstructive and central sleep apnea. Regardless of its cause or type, sleep apnea interferes with your breathing as you sleep. Your breathing slows down significantly and can completely stop for periods of up to a minute at a time. Depending on the severity of your condition and your risk factors, sleep apnea can be extremely dangerous, or it can be more of an inconvenience, causing loud snoring, dry mouth, headaches, and unsatisfactory sleep quality.

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

The first line of treatment for sleep apnea is usually either the use of oral appliances like mouthguards, or the use of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices. Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, quitting smoking, or drinking less alcohol are also effective at alleviating sleep apnea symptoms in some patients. However, when these treatment methods do not work, surgery may be an option. The most common type of surgical procedure used to treat sleep apnea is known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP.

How UPPP Can Help

This surgery involves removing excess tissue from the roof of your mouth, the pharynx, or the tonsils if they are present. UPPP surgery removes obstructions and opens the airway to reduce or eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.

Depending on your unique case, there are other surgical options for treating sleep apnea. Some of these procedures include nasal surgery, palate surgery, tongue base reduction, and tracheostomy. If you are interested in learning more about surgery to treat your sleep apnea symptoms, call us today.
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