Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea isn’t just about snoring. People with obstructive sleep apnea aren’t delivering enough oxygen to the brain. This occurs when the airway in the back of the throat becomes blocked or collapses while sleeping, causing airflow to stop.

When the oxygen level in the brain drops to a certain level, the sleeper awakens, usually with a loud gasp, snort or choking sound, clearing the obstruction and allowing airflow to resume. This can occur dozens of times every hour depending on the severity of obstructive sleep apnea.

In addition to causing excessive daytime sleepiness, depression and loss of concentration, obstructive sleep apnea can increase the risk of heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity. Effective treatment of obstructive sleep apnea can improve energy levels and brain function while dramatically reducing the risk of serious cardiovascular disease.

After undergoing a series of tests and possibly a sleep study to determine the severity of obstructive sleep apnea, one of several treatment options is typically recommended. A nasal CPAP machine and nasal mask may be used to promote the flow of oxygen at night.

Soft tissue surgery can be used to alleviate nasal obstructions or increase the size of the airway in the back of the throat. However, while some soft tissue procedures may help you stop snoring, they don’t always correct obstructive sleep apnea. Many patients will eventually start snoring again while sleep apnea worsens.

On the other hand, corrective jaw surgery can deliver more predictable, permanent results by moving the lower jaw forward to relieve airway obstruction. If you’ve been diagnosed with sleep apnea, or you think you may be suffering from sleep apnea, schedule a consultation so we can discuss the best treatment plan.

Visit the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons for more information.