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Turning to Your Oral Surgeon When Sleep Apnea Plagues You

Posted on 10/20/2016 by Dr McMurray
A couple suffering from sleep apnea.
Obstructive sleep apnea (also known as OSA) is a rather dangerous condition that many people don't even realize they have. As you sleep, your airways become blocked, causing your breathing to momentarily stop.

Excess tissue, your tongue, even your tonsils can block your breathing. The muscles in your airway, including your nasal passage, or your jaw position can also have an effect.

The halt in your breathing can last anywhere from a few seconds to just over a minute. While sleep apnea appliances may be successful for some, for some, oral surgery can offer the best possible solution.

Health Effects of OSA

Untreated, sleep apnea can lead to a variety of health problems. These issues may be fatal and include:

•  Heart problems such as irregular heartbeat, heart disease or heart attack.
•  Stroke.
•  High blood pressure.

You may not notice sleep apnea on your own. If you live with another person, he or she are the ones most likely to point them out. Snoring is one indicator. Another indication is waking up suddenly while gasping for air.

There are several surgical procedures that can help open your airways and help to stop sleep apnea. Many of them are performed in conjunction with other procedures. A genioglossus advancement involves tightening the front tendon in the tongue, which prevents the tongue from being able to slip back into the throat.

A maxillomandibular advancement moves the jaw, as well as the tongue and palate, forward. This procedure helps to keep the airway open.

Nasal procedures include septoplasty and turbinate reduction. A septoplasty straightens a bent or deviated septum. A turbinate reduction reduces or completely removes the pieces that stick out from the interior sides of the nose.

A rare, but rather effective, procedure is called a tracheostomy. This procedure is usually reserved for emergency situations. A hollow tube is placed in the windpipe that keeps your airways open during the night. It is plugged during the day so you can eat and speak.

While not always necessary, oral surgery can fix problems with sleep apnea. If you suspect you have sleep apnea, or a loved one has noticed any signs, contact our office to discuss your options.

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