Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that affects millions of people around the world. It is characterized by a cessation of breathing during sleep, resulting in frequent awakenings and disrupted sleep patterns. This can have significant impacts on physical health, mental well-being, and emotional well-being.

There are two types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and central sleep apnea (CSA).

OSA: OSA is the most common type of sleep apnea and occurs when the airway becomes blocked due to soft tissue collapse or other anatomical factors. Symptoms can include loud snoring, pauses in breathing, waking up frequently throughout the night, and excessive daytime fatigue.

CSA: CSA is less common than OSA and is caused by a disruption in the signals from the brain to the muscles that control breathing. Symptoms of CSA may include shallow or absent breathing and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Both types of sleep apnea can be dangerous and lead to other health problems if left untreated. A maxillofacial oral surgeon may be able to help with these issues by providing treatments such as orthognathic surgery.

Dangers of Sleep Apnea

When breathing stops for 10 seconds or more, oxygen levels in the blood drop, and the heart has to work harder to pump enough oxygenated blood throughout the body. This can cause high blood pressure and other medical problems such as stroke, heart attack, congestive heart failure, and atrial fibrillation.

Additionally, people with sleep apnea often experience excessive daytime sleepiness because their quality of restorative sleep is compromised due to intermittent breathing pauses, which greatly affects their quality of life.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea

Before any treatments are recommended for sleep apnea, it is important to get a diagnosis from a doctor or specialist to determine the severity of the condition and the type of treatment required. Before treatment is recommended, your oral surgeon will thoroughly examine your head, neck, and mouth and order a sleep study to assess the degree of sleep apnea.

A sleep study is used to determine if any additional sleep disorders are causing excessive daytime sleepiness. These disorders could include periodic limb movements during sleep or narcolepsy, which require different treatments.

Once a diagnosis is made, your oral surgeon may recommend orthognathic surgery to improve your breathing and reduce or eliminate any symptoms.

Common Treatments

The most common treatment options for obstructive sleep apnea include lifestyle modifications, such as losing weight, wearing a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask while sleeping, or using an oral device to help keep the airway open. In some cases, these methods may not be enough, and your sleep specialist and/or oral surgeon may suggest additional treatment.

How Orthognathic Surgery Helps with Sleep Apnea

The most common surgery to treat severe sleep apnea is maxillomandibular advancement surgery. This procedure focuses on advancing the lower jaw (mandible) and the upper jaw (maxilla). This procedure can help open up the airway by repositioning the upper and lower jaws to create more space in the nasal passage and upper airway.

A maxillofacial surgeon will assess the patient to determine if orthognathic surgery is an effective treatment for their sleep apnea. Using imaging and radiographs, they can determine how much advancement is needed and whether other treatments would be more effective in treating the condition. 

Depending on the severity of the condition, an oral surgeon may recommend a combination of orthodontic treatments and orthognathic surgery to help provide effective relief from sleep apnea.

Surgery may be a viable option for:

  • Children with OSA 
  • Adults who cannot tolerate CPAP or an oral appliance 
  • Adults with anatomical features (such as tonsillar hypertrophy, macroglossia, and retrognathia) that cause narrowing of the pharynx
  • Facial features that impair proper CPAP mask fit, 
  • Patients who refuse to wear a CPAP device, 
  • Patients with no contraindications to anesthesia or surgery 

Benefits of Orthognathic Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Orthognathic surgery can provide numerous benefits for those suffering from sleep apnea, including:

  • Improved airflow—by realigning your jawbone to open up airways, orthognathic surgery can help to improve airflow and reduce or eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Improved overall quality of sleep—orthognathic surgery can also help to reduce snoring and other disruptive breathing patterns while you sleep, which can result in an improved overall quality of sleep.
  • Improvement in overall health and well-being—by reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea, orthognathic surgery can help to improve your overall health and wellbeing.
  • Reduce or even eliminate risks associated with untreated sleep apnea, such as high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and weight gain.

Experience the AZ Difference

Sleep apnea is a serious disorder that affects millions of people around the world. When oral treatments and lifestyle changes prove ineffective, oral surgeons can provide additional treatment with orthognathic surgery to help open up the airway and improve the management of sleep apnea symptoms. 

Oral surgeons are uniquely qualified to assess patients for suitability for this type of oral surgery and can determine the best course of treatment for each individual. With the right treatments, patients with sleep apnea can be well-managed and lead healthier lives.

Our oral surgeons at AZ Max are uniquely qualified to treat sleep apnea and can evaluate and provide the best treatments for each individual. If you are searching for oral surgeon Mesa, AZ, Tempe, Show Low and Queen Creek, or an oral surgeon near me, we are here for you. To book an appointment with a surgeon at any of our 5 locations, call (480) 830-5866 or complete the online booking form.