Why would I need surgery for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a breathing disorder that can have serious impacts on your mental, physical and emotional health. Here, our Yarmouth dentsist explain this disorder and give some advice about when dental surgery might be required.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a serious breathing disorder that is characterized by brief but often frequent interruptions during sleep.

If your airway becomes partially blocked, the palatal tissues vibrate, producing the sound we all know and recognize as snoring. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway is completely blocked for periods of time.

As you may imagine, this condition can have very serious negative effects on the emotional, physical and mental health of patients. There are many treatment options, including CPAP machines and oral appliances that may help to improve the condition. In rarer cases, surgery may be recommended. We will explain why shortly.

How can sleep apnea impact my health?

Are you tired, but can't sleep? Sleep apnea may cause a whole range of serious mental and physical health issues with several symptoms, from interrupted sleep in the short term to increasing your risk of cardiovascular disease, depression and even premature death.

Symptoms of sleep apnea

Left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea can put you at risk for numerous health conditions, including:

  • Lack of energy
  • Stroke
  • Extremely loud snoring
  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Heart attack
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Problems with memory, or memory loss
  • Awakening with headache or dry mouth

As many know, snoring can also cause sleep problems for a spouse. However, there is hope in finding the right treatment method that considers the patients needs and effectively resolves this medical condition.

How is sleep apnea treated?

There are a number of successful treatments available for sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, your dentist may recommend:

CPAP Machine

Known as Continuous Positive Air Pressure Machines, these electronic devices use an internal fan to draw air inside. The air is then humidified and pressurized before being sent to the user through a connective base and face mask, which they breathe through.

Oral Appliances

We can offer or recommend custom-fitted oral appliances to shift your tongue and lower jaw muscles to ensure the airway stays open. This helps airflow and prevents you from waking during the night.


At our Yarmouth dental office, we take a non-invasive approach to dental care when possible. We will only rely on surgery when health issues can be successfully treated with other methods like oral appliances or lifestyle changes. 

Do I need sleep apnea surgery?

If no other treatment options have worked, one or more surgeries may be recommended. Surgical options include:

  • Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction to straighten a bent or deviated nasal septum.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) to remove and reposition excess tissue in the throat and widen the airway.
  • Maxillomandibular osteotomy (MMO) and advancement (MMA) for people with severe sleep apnea. The bones of the jaws are cut and will heal over months.
  • Hyoid Suspension to pull the hyoid bone (located in the neck) forward and secure it in place, enlarging the space for breathing in your lower throat.
  • Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction (RFVTR) to shrink and tighten tissues in and around the throat.

These are a few surgical procedures that may effectively treat sleep apnea. Your dentist may recommend a less common one depending on your case and requirements.

Have questions about sleep apnea or other oral health concerns? Contact SouthWest Dental today to book an appointment. 

Helping Achieve Your Oral Health Goals

At SouthWest Dental, we are dedicated to helping you achieve optimal oral health with a range of dental services that can be tailored to your needs.

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