Certain sleep problems may be temporary, such as insomnia caused by a particular short-term stressor. In other cases, however, the sleep disruption can persist if the underlying cause is not addressed.
That is the case with sleep apnea, which is typically caused when the airway opening is obstructed by the soft tissues at the rear of the throat. Those tissues can go slack while a patient is sleeping and cover up a portion of or the entire airway opening, leading to periodic pauses in breathing throughout the night.
Obstructive sleep apnea is unlikely to resolve on its own without some type of targeted intervention.
In some people, certain lifestyle changes may reduce sleep apnea symptoms. For example, sleep apnea is correlated with obesity, so some patients may get relief if they lose weight.
When lifestyle changes alone do not sufficiently address the problem, though, a patient with sleep apnea may choose to consult with an oral surgeon for treatment.
Although an oral surgeon may be involved in planning for sleep apnea treatment, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the patient will have to undergo an invasive intervention. Many patients get relief simply from wearing a custom-designed mouthguard that holds the jaw or tongue in a forward position throughout the night.
Similarly, a patient may find that a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask is an effective treatment. On the other hand, many patients complain that the mask is so cumbersome that it disrupts their sleep, too.
When patients do not respond to more conservative measures, some type of oral surgery may be recommended to eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.
Getting effective sleep apnea treatment can give you significant health benefits and a drastic improvement in your quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, schedule an appointment with our skilled team at ORA® Oral Surgery, Sleep Disorder & Implant Studio to learn more about the treatments that may be most effective in your case.