American adults suffer from it, according to the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, and it may also affect many children in the United States as well.
While medical professionals assess each case on an individual basis and attempt to prescribe effective, nonsurgical treatment approaches whenever possible, sometimes surgery is the only way of securing a restful, healthy sleep throughout your lifetime. Learn more about sleep apnea and how oral surgery may be the right treatment choice, depending on the severity of your condition.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition in which your oral tissues obstruct your breathing passageways when they relax during sleep. As the blood oxygen levels drop, the body wakes enough to initiate breathing once again, signified by a sudden grunt or intake of breath, but then the cycle continues repeatedly throughout the night.
Overweight people are at a higher risk of developing OSA, along with people with large necks, small airway passages or swollen tonsils. Men are more likely to suffer from the condition than women, and everyone’s risk for developing OSA increases with age.
Negative Side Effects
OSA may not seem serious, but it can drastically increase your odds of suffering heart problems or strokes, as well as raise blood pressure. You may feel physically and mentally tired on a daily basis and be unable to focus or concentrate for long periods of time. This can lead to depression and a decreased sex drive. Since the chest and abdominal muscles work harder to suck in air while you are asleep, you may feel sore or have chest pains during the day.
Nonsurgical Treatment Options
OSA is typically diagnosed by a primary physician or dentist who may then work with your oral and maxillofacial surgeon to determine the best course of treatment for you. First, they may outfit you with a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. You will wear a mask, and pressurized air will be fed into your airway passages during sleep, limiting the collapse of excess tissues that originally caused the obstruction.
You may also be counseled on how to effectively lose weight, wear a mouthguard and position yourself during sleep to see a reduction in symptoms. If these treatment approaches fail to produce positive results or your condition warrants permanent correction, surgical procedures are the next option.
How Does Surgery Help?
The most permanent surgical option is maxillomandibular advancement (MMA), which repositions the upper and lower jaw to a more forward position in order to enlarge your airway. Other surgical options include repositioning the tongue’s tendons and removing tonsils. Overall, surgery offers you the most permanent form of relief.
Contact Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery for more information on the surgical procedures available, as well as detailed facts on how oral surgery can correct and treat your obstructive sleep apnea.