What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a common disorder in which you have one or more pauses in breathing, and as many as 20-30 times per hour while you sleep. If you suffer from sleep apnea, each time your breathing stops, the resulting lack of oxygen alerts your brain, which temporarily wakes you up to restart proper breathing. As a result, the quality of your sleep is poor, which makes you tired during the day. Sleep apnea is a leading cause of excessive daytime sleepiness.
Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed. Doctors usually can’t detect the condition during routine office visits and no blood test can help diagnose the condition. The most common type of sleep apnea is obstructive sleep apnea. In this condition, the airway collapses or becomes blocked during sleep, causing shallow breathing or breathing pauses.
Here are some common signs of sleep apnea:
- Insomnia or difficulty sleeping
- Loud snoring at night
- Waking up at night, short of breath
- Snorting or choking sounds during the night (indicating a restart of breathing)
- Headaches upon waking in the morning
- Falling asleep unintentionally during the day
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
What kinds of treatment options are available to orthodontists for sleep apnea patient?
Rapid Palatal Expander
For people who have very narrow upper jaws and have problems breathing through their nose such as with the upper airway resistance syndrome, we expand the upper jaw to be wider and the floor of the nose is expanded as well to create more nasal volume. This is a common orthodontic treatment especially for children. The rapid palatal expander is an appliance to expand the upper jaw. It is an effective way for treating sleep apnea and sometimes this expander therapy is combined with tonsillectomy to achieve maximum results for kids.
For people who have small and retruded lower jaws, pushing the tongue backward, we re-position the lower jaw forward using orthodontic appliances. If you prefer not to have the full brace treatment, we can use a simple oral appliance that can be applied just during the night time.
These appliances prevent the collapse of tongue and soft tissue so that the airway stays open during sleep.
Orthognathic surgery (Maxillomandibular Advancement)
For severe cases, we recommend orthognathic surgery in conjunction with braces, which has been proven to be the most effective surgical treatment for sleep apnea.
What is orthognathic surgery (Maxillomandibular Advancement)?
It is jaw surgery to move the upper and lower to correct jaw discrepancies. For sleep apnea patients, the main focus of the surgery is to expand the airway. As a result, most of the time, the upper and lower jaws are moved forward. As the bones are surgically advanced, the soft tissues of the tongue and palate are also moved forward, again opening the upper airway.
Orthognathic surgery can allow for patients to breathe better, correct functional problems, and dramatically enhance the patient’s appearance. This is the most effective surgical treatment for sleep apnea with high success rates and long term stability.
Contact our scheduling department today to make an appointment.
Make an appointment with Dr. Robert Lopatkin at Advanced Digital Orthodontics’s Rosyln, NY location by using our convenient online scheduling tool or by calling 1-888-427-2237.