Sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition where the individual suffers from low levels of oxygen in their blood, which disrupts their sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea involves the tongue being pulled towards the rear of the throat, blocking the patient’s upper airway which then stops the airflow. When enough oxygen is prevented from reaching the brain the sufferer will wake up, at least in part, and clear the blockage. This starts the air flowing correctly but will prevent the individual from getting a good night’s sleep.
The consistent low level of oxygen can have pretty severe consequences on the cardiovascular system. The lack of sleep can cause sufferers to lose concentration during the day, and feel nearly constantly sleepy. It can even lead to depression.
Upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS) refers to a less serious blockage but the symptoms are the same. The key to starting treatment is to understand and recognize the problem which can be difficult because it is a sleeping disorder, and thus many sufferers are unaware that they have it. Consulting a doctor will help you to explore your options, both maxillofacial and oral surgeons, can provide potential treatment options. To find the best treatment for you your doctor will need to examine your maxillofacial area. They will also need your medical history. Your levels of blockage will be assessed using cephalometric analysis, or skull x rays. In some cases a nasopharyngeal examination will be completed with a fiber-optic camera. Your sleep may need to be investigated to accurately assess the problem. This can involve overnight monitoring.
There are a few treatment choices that are available. One nonsurgical option is to use a device known as a nasal CPAP machine. It passes pressurized air through a mask to stop the obstruction during the night. A surgical option known as a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) which is implemented on the rear of the soft section of the palate and throat. Another similar surgery, uvulopalatoplasty (LAUPP), can be completed with the use of a laser. In some other instances a probe using radiofrequency is used to narrow the soft palate.
These surgical procedures tend to be completed while the patient is sedated with an IV in our office. In some instances the bones on the lower and upper jaws may be moved to make the airway larger. This is known as orthognathic surgery and is completed under anesthesia in a hospital setting. It also requires the patient to stay one or two nights at the hospital to recover before they can be discharged.
Sleep apnea is a severe condition that demands an attention to detail. The good news is that there are a variety of treatments available and most medical plans cover both the diagnosis as well as the treatment.
Martindale Dental provides both general and specialty dentistry under one roof. For more than 20 years, our dentists have been advocates for their patients oral health care needs. Our dental offices are conveniently located in Toronto, North York, St Catharines, North York, Burlington, Milton East and Milton West, Ontario. We offer convenient before & after work and weekend appointments.