What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous condition in which a person repeatedly stops breathing for a few seconds at a time during sleep. Not only does this condition disrupt a person’s rest, it also may increase that person’s risk of high blood pressure, arrhythmia or even a heart attack.

The most common form of sleep apnea occurs when the airway is obstructed during sleep. The muscles of the throat are relaxed, allowing the soft tissues toward the rear of the throat to collapse and cover up the opening to the airway.

Fortunately, sleep apnea can be treated through oral surgery in Dallas. A number of different techniques can be used to alter the shape of the oral cavity to prevent the soft tissues from obstructing the airway.

In correcting the structural problems that cause sleep apnea, the oral surgeon may remove a small piece of the soft palate or reposition the upper and lower jaw to improve access to the airway. The various structures that support the tongue may also be the target of surgical interventions to correct sleep apnea.

Prior to the surgery, patients will meet with the oral surgeon for an evaluation that helps to determine which surgical technique will be most effective in each particular case. This process may include a skull x-ray used in cephalometric analysis, as well as a nasopharyngeal examination.

Although patients will be largely unaware that they have sleep apnea unless informed of it by a partner, certain signs and symptoms can suggest the condition’s presence. People who have sleep apnea may have headaches upon wakening or experience daytime sleepiness.

Patients who suspect that they have sleep apnea must have a confirmed diagnosis before undergoing oral surgery. Patients can determine whether they have sleep apnea by participating in a sleep study.

If you have sleep apnea, it’s important to correct the condition to protect your health. After receiving your confirmed diagnosis, schedule a consultation with our experienced oral surgeons at Dallas Oral Surgery Associates to see if a surgical intervention will be helpful in your case.