Orthognathic Surgery Can Alleviate Serious Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a term that has become very familiar to millions of people over the last several years as science shines its light on this health disorder with serious complications. The condition occurs when a person’s breathing slows drastically or stops completely while asleep for a couple of seconds or as long as a minute or more. The lack of oxygen to the brain causes the sleep apnea sufferer to wake up partially in order to restore the proper level of oxygen. The true cost of sleep apnea is the disturbed sleep it causes to sufferers, who might partially awaken up to thirty times each hour, thus losing quality sleep every night.
There are two kinds of sleep apnea, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA). OSA occurs when the airway collapses or is blocked while you are asleep and is seen more often in overweight men over the age of 40. However, a significant percentage of women suffer from the disorder too. Even children, particularly those who have enlarged tonsils, can experience sleep apnea. CSA is a less common type of sleep apnea that happens when the brain doesn’t send the correct signals to the body while you’re sleeping, asleep, essentially causing you to “forget” to breathe. CSA can affect anyone, no matter how old you are or what kind of physical condition you’re in.
Serious Health Issues Caused by Sleep Apnea
Besides leaving you with a nearly overwhelming feeling of tiredness during the day, OSA can lead to even more serious health issues. High blood pressure is one of the most frequently seen results of OSA, but an even more dangerous health condition can be the increased risk of a heart attack or atrial fibrillation. Waking frequently during the night, particularly because of low oxygen levels, leads to added stress on the body.
Research shows that nearly 80 percent of all obstructive sleep apnea sufferers also have Type 2 diabetes. Because OSA sufferers are frequently overweight, this correlation isn’t surprising. However, suffering from sleep apnea can also lead to weight gain, since a body that is tired due to lack of sleep often releases a hormone that causes you to crave carbohydrates and sweet foods.
Typical and Not-So-Typical Sleep Apnea Sufferers
While women aren’t found to have obstructive sleep apnea as frequently as men are, those women who do suffer from the condition don’t always exhibit the same symptoms that men do. Snoring is seen as a telltale sign of sleep apnea. Men who have OSA or their bed partners report that they frequently wake up gasping for air or snorting loudly enough to rouse themselves briefly. Their partners often report that men who have sleep apnea snore so loudly that the partner is forced to move to another room to get a good night’s sleep.
Studies show that women, on the other hand, experience mood disorders when they’re robbed of a good night’s sleep due to OSA. Women say that they are often depressed or anxious as well as exhausted despite a full night’s sleep. Since women aren’t diagnosed with sleep apnea as often as men are, their symptoms might be treated incorrectly as depression or even hypochondria.
The most popular treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is the continuous positive air pressure (CPAP) machine, which delivers the proper amount of air pressure your nose and mouth in order to help keep the airway passages open sufficiently to prevent sleep apnea. In mild cases of OSA, some different types of oral appliances can help keep airways unobstructed, while bi-level positive air pressure (BiPAP) devices offer more air pressure when you inhale and less pressure when you exhale.
However, many obstructive sleep apnea sufferers have a much more serious problem, or are not able to tolerate a CPAP device. If you’re one of these people, orthagnathic surgery might be your best option. There are several different types of operations that can be performed by oral surgeons and maxillofacial surgeons that can help you finally overcome the sleep and medical problems brought on by your condition.
One of the more common surgical procedures used to treat OSA is the uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP). This procedure partially removes the uvula from the back of the throat as well as some soft tissue to help increase the diameter of the air passageway and prevent it from closing as you sleep. Sleep apnea sufferers whose hyoid bone, located in the neck just above the Adam’s apple, is causing sleep apnea can benefit from having the hyoid bone attached securely to the Adam’s apple. Likewise, sleep apnea sufferers who have never had their tonsils or adenoids taken out might find that these rather unnecessary body parts are causing more trouble than they’re worth and are better off removed.
There are times, though, when a misaligned jaw is the major reason you are suffering from OSA. In this case, maxillomandibular advancement (MMA), a type of orthagnathic surgery, can be the answer you need to start getting a good and restful night’s sleep. During MMA surgery, the bones of both the upper and lower jaws are surgically moved forward, which brings the soft tissues of the palate and tongue forward at the same time. Patients with severe cases of OSA who have not been helped by more conventional treatments are most likely to benefit from MMA surgery.
If you or someone in your family is experiencing the frustrating symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea, Dr. Majid Jamali, DMD, at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of New York can help you determine what kind of treatment you’ll need. Dr. Jamali has been a cosmetic dentist for almost ten years and is also a board-certified surgeon, which allows him to diagnose your condition so that together you can determine the best course of treatment for your OSA. To make an appointment, contact Dr. Jamali at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of New York at 212-480-2777 or visit his office at 42 Broadway, Suite 1501 New York, NY 10004.