Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a serious health condition that affects millions of Americans throughout their lifetimes. This condition affects people of all ages from children to adults, and if left undiagnosed can result in severe consequences.

It’s vital to accurately diagnose and treat OSA when symptoms arise. If you or a loved one suffer from sleep apnea, consult with an experienced oral and maxillofacial surgeon in your area. Dr. Nancy Herbst of Union City Oral Surgery can help get your life back on track and give you the sleep you’ve been missing.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

An “apnea” is the the loss of breath or cessation of breathing. When you stop breathing during the night, your body wakes up just enough to restart the breathing process. The constant stop and start of breathing throughout the night interrupts sleep and causes health complications.

Neurology International defines sleep apnea as “the presence of 30 or more apneas during a seven-hour sleep.” In severe cases, the cessation of breathing can last up to a minute and can occur hundreds of times per night.

Symptoms and Risks of Sleep Apnea

A variety of issues can cause sleep apnea. OSA happens when the airway is obstructed during sleep, either from excess tissue, enlarged tonsils or tongue, nasal passages, or jaw positioning.

If you suffer from OSA, you may not realize it. Waking up gasping for air or loud snoring may be symptoms of sleep apnea. Early detection is critical to preserving your health, so consult an oral surgeon when symptoms arise. Some risks of undiagnosed OSA include:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Heart disease
  • Decreased libido

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon in your area can consult with you to get to the bottom of your sleep apnea and decide the appropriate course of action.

Treatment

Treatment for OSA is done on a case-by-case basis. The steps you take to treat your particular sleep apnea depend on the severity of the condition as well as the cause. These treatments include both surgical and non-surgical options and may involve a combination of both.

CPAP Devices

Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices help sleep apnea patients with their breathing pattern throughout the night. A CPAP machine is a mask someone wears during the night that helps regulate breathing and keep airways open. Though they are specifically designed to help sleep apnea patients, people often find them uncomfortable and hard to use. They also typically do not treat more severe cases of sleep apnea.

Dental Devices

Dental devices and appliances are beneficial for those who have a more severe form of sleep apnea and cannot handle a CPAP device. These devices work by holding the tongue or jaw in place during sleep to prevent it from blocking the airway. A dental appliance is custom-made to fit your mouth and sleeping habits.

Surgery

The most successful way to treat sleep apnea is to reduce extra tissue or other blockages that obstruct your airway when you sleep. Surgery for sleep apnea can be either minimally invasive or a bit more complex, but the goal is to rid the airway of obstructions that cause apneas.

Some areas of the body on which an oral surgeon may operate to treat sleep apnea are the:

  • Soft palate and uvula
  • Tonsils and adenoids
  • Tongue
  • Upper and lower jaw

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon is highly trained and can help treat your sleep apnea by skillfully performing the necessary procedure. A few methods include:

  • Genioglossus Advancement (GGA) – surgery tightens the tendon on the tongue to help your tongue from blocking your airway while you sleep.
  • Hyoid Suspension – surgery stabilizes your airway by securing the hyoid bone to the thyroid cartilage.
  • Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) – repositions the bones and joints of the face to keep airways open.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – partially removes the uvula and reduces part of the soft palate.

Regardless of the severity of your sleep apnea, an oral surgeon can provide you with learning resources and treatment options to help you achieve a deep sleep.

Union City Oral Surgery

Dr. Nancy Herbst has over 25 years of experience performing a variety of procedures. In 2016 she was named one of New Jersey’s top oral surgeons. Union City Oral Surgery uses only the most up-to-date technology and techniques to give their patients quality care. Contact our office at (201) 601-9262 to schedule an appointment today.