at the Michigan Center in Novi
Of course, before you can ever be treated for sleep apnea, you’ll first have to be diagnosed with the condition. To be diagnosed, you will want to consult a dentist who has a relationship with a qualified sleep physician, and who can then offer you sleep apnea treatment accordingly. Once you are positively diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea, the sleep apnea dentist will then decide what type of sleep apnea treatment will be the best for your condition. There are various types of sleep apnea treatments out there, especially depending on your body’s unique challenges.
CPAP Sleep Apnea Treatment
CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure is still considered the gold standard of treatment for sleep apnea, and is especially appropriate for patients who suffer from severe obstructive sleep apnea. The trouble is that many people, as much as 50% of sleep apnea patients, who are prescribed CPAP treatment for their sleep apnea cannot tolerate the treatment.
CPAP is essentially an air pump. It’s a small machine that sits next to your bed and sends pressurized air through a tube that is connected to a mask that you wear over your nose (as well as the mouth in some cases). The forced air props open your airway when you breathe in. The treatment is very effective at increasing blood oxygen levels for sleep apnea patients, that is, when they can tolerate it.
The majority of CPAP patients that cannot comply with the treatment have one or many, if not all of these complaints about CPAP:
- Wearing a mask while sleeping is not comfortable
- Skin irritation from the mask
- Too noisy
- Can’t tolerate the pressurized air
If you’ve tried CPAP and can’t tolerate the treatment there are other options, including oral sleep apnea appliances.
Sleep Apnea Appliances
There are several different types of oral sleep apnea appliances that can be used to treat sleep apnea. This type of treatment is called Oral Appliance Therapy or OAT. Many times these appliances have been approved by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. Specialized oral sleep apnea appliances can also be used in conjunction with CPAP to treat central and complex sleep apnea. Oral sleep apnea appliances should be custom-made by a dentist to fit you. The sleep apnea appliance you use will be one that is especially chosen by Dr. Serra. The purpose of these appliances is to keep the airway open and free of any blockage. Oral appliances can also be used to treat snoring.
Treating Central and Complex Sleep Apnea
When it comes to treating central and complex sleep apnea, you will want to keep in close touch with a dentist as well as a physician. This way you will be able to get the proper treatment you need, which may involve the use of a sleep apnea appliance called a TAP-PAP, along with a CPAP machine. CPAP machines are the most commonly used forms of sleep apnea treatment and are the only treatment approved by the AASM for treatment of central and complex sleep apnea.
The TAP-PAP works by better controlling the airflow from the CPAP while also advancing the mandible, thereby easing the flow of air, which can mean a decrease in the pressure needed from the machine. Lower pressure makes CPAP treatment more tolerable, which increases compliance with the treatment. Dr. Serra will work closely with your sleep physician to ensure that the TAP-PAP improves your sleep breathing. As with any oral appliance therapy regimen for sleep apnea, it is recommended that you undergo another sleep study after wearing the TAP-PAP for a while to ensure that it is working for you.
Sleep Apnea Surgery
Sometimes sleep apnea patients have so much excess tissue in their throats that neither oral appliance therapy nor CPAP treatment is effective in treating their obstructive sleep apnea. The excess tissues continue to block the airway when the patient goes to sleep. In these cases, surgery is unfortunately the only option, but it should only be used as a last resort after other treatments have been tried and failed.
Some of the available sleep apnea surgeries are:
- Nasal surgery, to correct a deviated septum for example, or turbinate reduction
- Genioglossus Advancement
- Pharyngoplasty, which can include tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy
- Uvulopalatal flap surgery
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (also known as UPPP or UP3)
- Maxillomandibular Expansion
- Maxillomandibular Advancement
All of the above surgeries are permanent and irreversible. Surgical outcomes are mixed. Simply removing the tonsils and adenoids for some people provides amazing results, while others who undergo the more aggressive UP3 surgery still have problems with sleep apnea.
A not-so-permanent surgery that is sometimes used is the implantation of palatal pillars, which are used to harden the soft palate.
Bariatric or weight loss surgery is sometimes indicated to help obese sleep apnea patients whose airways are compromised by fat deposits in the neck and throat. Patients can try to lose weight on their own, but bariatric surgery is a more reliable way to quickly lose weight and potentially save their lives. Unfortunately, due to their poor airways, patients often need to undergo tracheotomy in order to safely be put under general anesthesia for the duration of the surgery. Consult a bariatric surgeon to find out if weight loss surgery as part of an overall sleep apnea treatment plan is appropriate for you.
Consultation for Sleep Apnea Treatment
If you’re looking for the sleep apnea treatment that is best for you, and you live in the Detroit area or are willing to travel to our Novi, Michigan dental office, give us a call at (248) 380-9330. We will set up a consultation time when you can speak with Dr. Serra about your sleep apnea treatment options. If you have any questions or concerns, call or email us. You can also book your consultation online.