How can an Oral Surgeon Help with Sleep Apnea?

Many people wake up coughing or gagging for air. Someone’s partner may have mentioned the person’s snoring is keeping them up at night. If someone finds it hard to get a good night’s sleep and wakes up feeling tired, they may have a condition called sleep apnea.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep apnea affects 18 million adults in the United States. Not only is sleep apnea disruptive, but also it can pose a serious health risk to those affected. Fortunately, help is available. From conservative, non-invasive devices to surgical treatment offering a more permanent solution, oral surgeons offer a range of options to help patients breathe easier and sleep more soundly.

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder in which a person’s breathing frequently stops and starts during sleep. There are three basic types of sleep apnea:

Obstructive sleep apnea. One of the commonly diagnosed forms of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the throat muscles relax. As they relax, the airway narrows during breathing, causing the brain to wake the body up to reopen the airway.

Central sleep apnea. Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain misfires, sending the wrong signals to the muscles that control breathing. People with central sleep apnea have trouble falling and staying asleep. 

Complex sleep apnea syndrome. Complex sleep apnea syndrome is the most serious form of sleep apnea occurring in patients who have both obstructive and central sleep apnea. This condition requires a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses every symptom.

Signs of Sleep Apnea

Surprisingly, many people do not even realize their breathing stops during sleep, unless a partner tells them or they see a doctor to find out why they are always tired.

Here are some signs a person may have some form of sleep apnea:

  • Loud snoring
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Waking up with a dry mouth
  • Frequent morning headaches
  • Excessive sleepiness throughout the day
  • Gasping for breath when sleeping
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Being told by another person they stopped breathing while sleeping

Am I at Risk for Sleep Apnea?

Because sleep apnea is so common, someone may wonder if they are at risk of developing the condition. Each type of sleep apnea comes with its own set of risk factors.

Some of the most common risk factors include the following:

  • Excess weight
  • Advanced age
  • Family history
  • Smoking
  • Narrow airway
  • Larger tonsils and/or adenoids
  • Congested nose

Oral Surgeons Offer a Range of Sleep Apnea Treatments for a Good Night’s Sleep

It is important to seek treatment for sleep apnea because having the condition increases a person’s chance of developing several serious health complications, including high blood pressure, heart disease, liver problems, and type 2 diabetes.

Individuals diagnosed with sleep apnea can find relief with a trusted oral surgery practice.  Depending on the type of sleep apnea and the patient’s symptoms, an oral surgeon may recommend one or more of the following treatments:

Lifestyle changes. Regular exercise, weight loss, and quitting smoking all help improve the quality of a person’s sleep and may reduce sleep apnea symptoms.

Oral appliance. A removable oral appliance is the first step for many patients with sleep apnea. Custom designed to fit the patient’s mouth, an oral appliance keeps mouth tissues in place during sleep to enhance breathing and comfort.

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. CPAP machines deliver oxygen through a mask to the body during the sleep cycle to prevent those jarring stops and starts that keep the patient from getting deep a restful sleep. Although this method is highly effective, some people find CPAP devices cumbersome and uncomfortable.

Surgery. Surgery is an option for patients who do not achieve results with oral appliances or CPAP devices, or who just want a permanent solution. Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is one innovative procedure that removes a portion of the uvula to shorten the soft palate and create more space for air to flow. 

After reviewing a patient’s case, the doctor creates a custom treatment plan to meet the patient’s health and wellness goals. The goal is always to provide the most conservative and effective option that will achieve the best possible outcome for the patient.

Mullica Hill Oral Surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons Offer Painless and Effective Sleep Apnea Treatments

Deep, restful sleep is so important to help you look, feel, and function at your best every day. If sleep apnea is keeping you, or your partner, awake at night, the Mullica Hill oral surgeons at Lanzi Burke Oral & Maxillofacial Surgeons can help. Reach out to our team to learn more about treatment options and take the first step toward improved sleep. Call us at 856-582-4222 or contact us online to make an appointment or schedule a free consultation. With offices in Washington Township, Haddonfield, and Woolwich Township, New Jersey, we are dedicated to helping patients throughout South Jersey.

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