As a former dentist and an expert in the field of sleep disorders, Dr. Avi Weisfogel outlines some of the most common methods of treating sleep apnea:
If you believe you may have sleep apnea it’s best to go see your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will assess the type and severity of the condition and prescribe a treatment options based upon that.
Continuous Positive Airway Pressure
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the most common treatment for moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea. This treatment option is a mode of respiratory ventilation involving the use of a specially designed mask. This mask is connected to a pump that continuously pumps air through the nasal passage to keep the airway open.
There are currently over 100 different oral devices available for the treatment of sleep apnea. There oral appliances are worn in the mouth similar to the way that a sports mouth guard is worn or an orthodontic device. These oral appliances are designed to hold the lower jaw forward and keep the airway open, preventing the tongue and upper airway muscles from collapsing. Oral appliances are often used as a first line of treatment for mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. After assessing your sleep apnea, your dentist will pick the oral appliance best suited for you.
Several different surgical options can be pursued for more severe cases of sleep apnea. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), is the most common sleep apnea surgical procedure. This procedure involves removing excess tissue from the soft palate and pharynx and adding in sutures to keep the airway open. UPPP is highly effective and has been the go-to surgical procedure for many cases of sleep apnea over the last 25 years.
Nasal surgery is also a common surgical treatment for sleep apnea. There are three common areas of the nose that can contribute to sleep apnea: the septum, the turbinates, and the nasal valve. Common nasal surgical procedures for treating sleep apnea involve straightening the septum and reducing the size of the turbinates. Nasal airways are increased and breathing becomes easier as a result.
The Pillar Procedure
Soft palate implants, commonly known as the Pillar Procedure is an effective and minimally invasive treatment option for more mild cases of sleep apnea. Three polyester rods are placed in the soft palate which initiate an inflammatory response of the soft tissue in the area. The soft palate thus becomes stiffer, reducing the symptoms of sleep apnea.