Sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing the soft tissue to collapse and obstruct airflow into and out of your lungs. Left untreated, this can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, or stroke. At Carolinas Centers For Oral & Facial Surgery, our doctors specialize in treating patients with innovative dental treatments, including jawbone grafts which help treat some forms of severe obstruction caused by relaxed muscles in the mouth. Explore the options available to you and get the help you need today.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common disorder characterized by abnormal reductions in breathing while the individual is asleep. However, while studies estimate that around 30 million Americans have sleep apnea, only approximately 6 million have been diagnosed. This is because sleep apnea can be hard to distinguish, especially if you are unaware of your nighttime symptoms.
If you think you have sleep apnea, keep an eye out for these warning signs and symptoms:
- Excessive fatigue and daytime drowsiness
- Gasping for air during sleep
- Waking up with a choking sensation
- Loud snoring
- Persistent headaches that last for hours after waking up
- Awakening with a dry mouth
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Irritability or frustration
- Reduced focus
The most affirmative symptom of sleep apnea is experiencing episodes where you stop breathing during sleep.
If these symptoms sound familiar to you, we recommend you seek sleep apnea treatment from an experienced doctor as soon as possible. With the right treatment plan, a good night’s sleep is possible.
Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea
The first step towards sleep apnea treatment is recognizing your symptoms and visiting an oral and maxillofacial surgeon for a comprehensive evaluation. Once we confirm this condition, we can build you a customized sleep apnea treatment plan that may include lifestyle changes, a PAP (positive airway pressure) machine, oral appliances, and surgery.
Lifestyle changes may include losing weight, regular exercise, avoiding alcohol and drugs, sleeping on your side, avoiding certain sleep pills, quitting all forms of nicotine, and avoiding certain medications.
Oral appliances help to reposition the jaws and stabilize the tongue to keep the airway open during sleep. You might need to try different devices before finding one that works for you. Once you find the right fit, follow-up appointments with your doctor are recommended during the first year and then regularly after that to ensure that the fit is still ideal.
If all other non-invasive treatment methods have failed, surgery may be your next treatment option for sleep apnea. Depending on your individual circumstances, your doctor may recommend tissue removal, jaw repositioning, dental implants, removing the tonsils, maxillomandibular advancement surgery, or anterior inferior mandibular osteotomy.
There are three main choices for anesthesia
Local anesthesia provides numbness directly where it is administered. It does not affect consciousness, so the patient remains awake while the feelings of discomfort are eliminated. Local anesthesia is commonly used for minor procedures.
Also known as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a mild sedative that the patient inhales to alleviate feelings of anxiety. It does not cause the patient to lose consciousness. It is often used together with local anesthesia.
IV sedation is commonly used for moderate to extensive oral or facial surgery procedures. This type of sedation is administered directly into the patient’s vein. Since amnesia (forgetfulness) is a common side effect of the medication, most patients who use IV sedation do not remember their procedure.
You’re in Good Hands With Our Doctors
The oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Carolinas Centers for Oral & Facial Surgery are committed to providing you with exceptional care and service. Our team of doctors can provide you with a personalized sleep apnea treatment plan to help you get the sleep you need each night. Contact us at (704) 799-3555 to schedule a consultation.