Treating sleep apnea with oral surgery may not be the first thing you think of when you’re looking for answers, but it can be one of the most effective ways to say goodbye to sleep apnea for good. In fact, many people who suffer from sleep apnea find themselves surrounded by a team of medical professionals,
which includes their primary physician, dentist, ENT, a sleep specialist, and an oral surgeon.
The Role of the Oral Surgeon in Sleep Apnea Treatment
Many treatment options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is caused by airway obstructions, are just that: treatment options. They don’t fix the underlying cause of the problem; they treat the symptoms. Treating sleep apnea with oral surgery is different. Oral surgery can actually remove the cause of the sleep apnea.
Oral surgeons work on much more than teeth. They also perform surgery on the mouth and jaws and treat disorders like TMJ, cleft palate and lip, facial reconstruction, dental implants, and even the removal of facial tumors and cysts. This knowledge and experience makes oral surgeons the perfect choice for treating sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea can be treated several different ways with oral surgery. The underlying cause and the severity of your problem will determine which option is right for you.
- Genioglossus Advancement (GGA) tightens the front tongue tendon, which helps keep your tongue forward when you sleep so it cannot obstruct your airway. GGA is usually performed in conjunction with another procedure like Hyoid suspension or UPPP.
- Hyoid Suspension secures the hyoid bone to the thyroid cartilage and stabilizes the airway.
- Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) repositions the upper and lower jaws, chin and soft tissues forward to open up the airway.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) shortens and stiffens the soft palate by partial removal of the uvula and reduction of the edge of the soft palate.
Non-surgical treatment is available, too. These are most effective in patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea and may include dental, lower jaw adjustment, or oral devices. Some fit inside the mouth, others fit around the chin and head. These appliances are not a permanent fix for the problem, however, since as soon as you stop using them, the problem will reappear.
Treating sleep apnea with oral surgery is not possible for every patient, but it can be a very effective method for certain individuals. Arrange a consultation with a surgeon at Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah to find out if you are a candidate for treating sleep apnea with oral surgery.