Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

OSA is a serious and even life-threatening condition

One in five adults has at least mild sleep apnea, and it also affects 1% to 3% of children. Yet people who have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) – a more serious health condition – may not even be aware they have a problem.

If someone close to you has spoken of your loud snoring and has noticed that you often wake up abruptly gasping for air, you should consult your oral and maxillofacial surgeon.

an estimated 18-20 million adults in the us suffer from osa

OSA is a serious problem and is associated with higher risks for:

  • Hypertension
  • Heart disease
  • Stroke
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Impotence
  • Behavior and cognitive problems
  • Death

In addition, OSA causes daytime drowsiness that can result in accidents, lost productivity and relationship problems.

What Causes OSA?

Excess tissue, large tonsils, a large tongue, blocked nasal passages, the position of the jaw, and airway muscles that relax and collapse during sleep may restrict the upper airway of OSA patients when they sleep. This airway reduction may increase the likelihood of a temporary pause in breathing known as "apnea."

Diagnosing OSA

If you exhibit two or more of the following symptoms, it's important you visit your oral and maxillofacial surgeon for a complete examination and an accurate diagnosis:

  • Daytime drowsiness
  • Snoring with pauses in breathing, often observed by a bed partner
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Problem with mental functions
  • Poor judgment or lack of focus
  • Memory loss
  • Quick to anger
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime chest pain
  • Depression
  • Morning headaches
  • Reduced libido
  • Frequent trips to the bathroom at night

Treatment of Sleep Apnea

Depending on whether your OSA is mild, moderate or severe, treatments can range from behavior modification to oral appliances to a C-PAP device.

Surgery may be a good alternative for some patients, but it's important to keep in mind that no surgical procedure is universally successful. If surgery is appropriate, your oral and maxillofacial surgeon will discuss several procedures that may be right for you.

An oral and maxillofacial surgeon has considerable experience and the necessary training and skill to perform the following surgical procedures:

maxillomandibular advancement surgery
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

    This procedure shortens and stiffens the soft palate by partially removing the uvula and reducing the edge of the soft palate.

  • Hyoid Suspension

    The hyoid bone is located above the level of the thyroid cartilage (Adam's apple). The procedure secures the hyoid bone to the thyroid cartilage to help stabilize this region of the airway.

  • Genioglossus Advancement (GGA)

    This procedure tightens the front tongue tendon, reducing the degree of tongue displacement into the throat. This operation is often performed in tandem with at least one other procedure such as UPPP or hyoid suspension.

  • Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA)

    This procedure surgically moves the upper and lower jaws forward along with the soft tissues of the tongue and palate, opening the upper airway. For some patients, MMA is the only technique that can create the necessary air passageway.

To learn more and find an oral and maxillofacial surgeon in your area, visit MyOMS.org.

The information provided here is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is provided to help you communicate effectively when you seek the advice of your oral and maxillofacial surgeon.