If you’re diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), you may have questions. Patients are often most curious about the treatment and prognosis of OSA. Specifically, they want to know if they must undergo treatment for the rest of their lives, or if we have a way to cure their sleep apnea.
The answer to this question depends on the details of your case, but oral surgeons have several tools to help patients who suffer from OSA, and to provide them the best chance for reducing or eliminating symptoms.
Conventional Sleep Apnea Treatments
One of the most commonly conventional treatment options for moderate to severe OSA involves a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device. This device delivers a stream of pressurized air to help keep your airway open for better breathing. The machine connects to a flexible mask that covers your nose or nose and mouth.
Dental appliances, including mandibular advancement devices (MADs) and tongue-retaining devices, are also commonly used to treat OSA. Similar to sports mouthguards, they help keep your airway open from inside your mouth.
Conventional treatments like these can treat OSA, but they aren’t cures. If you stop using the devices, the symptoms will return.
Losing Weight May Be a Cure for Sleep Apnea
Excess weight plays a critical role in OSA, Overweight or obese patients face a much greater risk of developing this sleep disorder. Losing weight can relieve throat constriction, which can restore continuous breathing. And when continuous breathing is restored, OSA symptoms resolve.
For many patients, OSA can go into remission after significant weight loss. However, this solution doesn’t work for every patient. Since losing weight is a gradual process, only time will tell if it will work as a cure for the sleep disorder. And if you regain the weight in the future, your OSA symptoms will likely return.
Oral Surgery Can Banish Sleep Apnea
There’s only one way to address the underlying cause of OSA, and that’s with oral surgery. Oral surgery procedures can enlarge the airway, permanently correcting the root of the problem.
Oral surgeons use several surgical approaches to treat OSA. Some patients benefit from removing excess tissue from the throat area, including the adenoids and tonsils. Others need oral surgery to reposition the jaw or to implant rods into the soft palate. Nasal surgery to repair a deviated septum is another option for treating OSA.
However, no single type of treatment is right for every patient, and oral surgery is not always an appropriate or effective treatment option. Patients with severe sleep disorders and those who have other serious medical conditions may not find an OSA cure through oral surgery.
To determine how your OSA should be treated, you’ll need to consult with an oral surgeon for a full evaluation.
The oral surgeons at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, serving the greater Salt Lake City area, can help you explore your options. Contact our Cottonwood Heights, South Jordan or Tooele office today to schedule your sleep apnea consultation.