Sleep Apnea Montgomery
The word "apnea" is Greek, and means "to stop breathing." Sleep apnea describes a sleep disorder during which a patient repeatedly stops breathing in his sleep, and it can have dire consequences on your overall health if not treated successfully. Breathing cessation can occur for a number of reasons, and different causes account for different forms of sleep apnea. Our Montgomery oral surgeons can treat extreme cases of obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of the disorder, when all other treatments have failed, and help you achieve the deep sleep your mind and body need.
The Different Forms of Sleep Apnea
Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the chest muscles and diaphragm; essentially, your body forgets how to breathe in your sleep. Obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA, occurs when your airway is physically blocked by collapsed oral tissues.
Most OSA patients exhibit some form of abnormal oral tissue, like enlarged tonsils or base of the tongue. During sleep, these tissues relax and collapse into the airway, causing excessive snoring as air is forced through an increasingly smaller space. The sound grows louder as the airway continues to close, and then silence ensues as the patient stops breathing. After a few moments, the mind panics and wakes the body with a gasp or choking sound, but only enough to start breathing again.
Treating obstructive sleep apnea focuses on preventing airway obstruction. Some patients find relief from obstructive sleep apnea simply by losing weight. In many cases, the condition is successfully treated with a custom-fitted oral appliance, or sleepguard, designed to keep the lower jaw in a forward position at night. The mandibular support helps prevent oral tissues from collapsing and blocking the airway. For more severe cases, a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is often prescribed to maintain air pressure and keep the airway open.
When Oral Surgery Is Required
Though many OSA patients find successful treatment with CPAP or a sleepguard, the treatments may not always work. In extreme cases, OSA patients are referred to an oral surgeon. Surgical OSA treatment involves soft tissue surgery to minimize the source of the obstruction, followed by jaw and orthognathic surgery to reposition the upper and lower jaw (both procedures are performed during the same visit). By changing the landscape of your oral tissues and airway, surgical treatment can eliminate the cause of obstructive sleep apnea when all other treatments have failed.
Consequences of Untreated Sleep Apnea
Patients with obstructive sleep apnea typically aren’t aware of the condition until an annoyed sleeping partner points out their extremely loud snoring. The disruptive cycle can occur hundreds of times a night, and while the body and mind are constantly woken up by the lack of air, the patient is not typically roused from consciousness. Aside from snoring and a complaining sleeping partner, other symptoms of sleep apnea include signs of sleep deprivation, such as;
- Daytime fatigue
- Blurred vision
- Trouble concentrating/remembering
- Reduced ability to tolerate stress
- Dramatic change in appetite
- Weak immune system (more frequent infections/illnesses)
Learn More about Sleep Apnea
To schedule a consultation, contact our practice today. Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery Associates has offices in three Alabama locations, and we proudly serve patients from Montgomery, Prattville, Troy, and the surrounding communities.
I wish to thank publically Dr. Ingalls and his staff for "going the extra mile" and not only providing great dental care but also helping a fellow human being out of compassion and caring. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for what you did for my family member.Rodney H.