Is My Snoring Actually Sleep Apnea?
Snoring is the topic of comedy routines and the eye-rolling conversation topic between spouses and their friends. However, chronic snoring is no laughing matter, often indicating a condition referred to as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Sleep apnea means the airways are blocked and unable to provide adequate airflow when your body is in a more relaxed, less-conscious sleeping state.
Individuals who have sleep apnea are deprived of both sleep and oxygen – a deprivation that can lead to more serious issues down the road. In some cases, the simple addition of a CPAP machine (more on that below) does the trick. Then there are instances when the airway is blocked by anatomic or structural deformities, growths, or a poorly healed injury. In these cases, surgery is required to remove obstructions and/or create surgical repairs that open the airway back up and eliminate snoring for good.
We can’t tell you how important it is to address snoring and possible sleep apnea with your physician. Just as periodontal disease is linked to all kinds of seemingly unrelated medical conditions, those with OSA have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. They also suffer from moodiness, fatigue, compromised decision making, and are higher-risk for falling asleep while driving or on the job. The sooner you let your body get a sound night’s sleep, the healthier you will be.
Oral Surgery Can Provide Permanent Relief for Certain Types of Sleep Apnea
The first step in treating chronic snoring is to have a consultation with an expert. Patients often assume they have obstructed sleep apnea because they snore. Snoring most often doesn’t require surgical intervention, but sleep apnea often does.
You can schedule a consultation with an oral and maxillofacial surgeon to obtain a qualified assessment. If the surgeon discovers anatomical features are to blame for your snoring, treatment plan options will be discussed with you.
There are several ways we determine the exact cause of the airway obstruction:
- Physical exam. A physical exam of the nose will indicate whether a deviated septum or growth may be at work.
- X-rays. We may use facial X-rays (cepalometric exam) to get a clear picture of everything from the hard palate of your mouth to the nasal and sinus cavities.
- Flexible camera. Sometimes we use a flexible, fiber-optic camera as part of the naso-pharyngeal exam.
- Sleep tests. You may be asked to have a sleep study. This is an overnight test that measures blood oxygen saturation and how many times you stop breathing in the night.
Treatments For Obstructed Sleep Apnea
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine
As mentioned above, the least invasive and most straightforward treatment is called a CPAP machine. CPAP stands for continuous positive airway pressure. Once quite cumbersome, CPAP machines have become much smaller and more comfortable in their design. They work by supplying a continuous stream of airflow that keeps the airways open so your body can breathe normally while you sleep, allowing your brain to enter the healthy sleep patterns it needs to rejuvenate your body.
While people are often resistant at first – we can assure you that your sleeping partner will happily support you wearing a mask each night in exchange for a better night’s sleep!
If your diagnostic tests reveal that positioning of your upper and lower jaws are constricting your airway, orthognathic surgery may be recommended. This is a surgical realignment of the jaws to open the airway. This procedure is performed by an oral surgeon who will guide you through the process.
While surgical fixes may seem extreme, many sleep apnea patients are thrilled they don’t need the CPAP machine or that they can turn the pressure down on their CPAP. Additionally, they appreciate the fact that their procedure is completed in a single day, and then enjoy healthy sleep immediately following the initial healing period.
Are you ready to get a good night’s sleep at long last? Schedule a consultation with us and if it appears you have sleep apnea, we will refer you to the right oral surgeon.