People with sleep apnea who cannot tolerate wearing CPAP masks to help them breathe while they sleep often have excellent results with corrective jaw surgery (such as orthognathic surgery). This surgical treatment for sleep apnea repositions the upper or lower jaw (or both) and helps those whose jaws don’t meet the way they should. Fixing irregularities in their jaws and teeth (aligning the jaw) can also help them chew, speak and breathe properly, as well as improve their facial appearance.
Successfully treating sleep apnea helps prevent the airway muscles from collapsing while you sleep if they relax too much. Sleep apnea, where breathing ceases multiple times during the night, can lead to health-related problems along with sleep deprivation. As the apnea pauses continue throughout your night, you might experience more than 30 sleep apnea episodes during a seven-hour night of sleep. If you have severe sleep apnea, you could experience up to 500 apneas a night.
Signs Indicating You Are Experiencing Sleep Apnea
- – Intermittent snoring with pauses in your breathing
- – Unrelenting daytime fatigue
- – Waking up gasping or choking in your sleep
- – Struggling with mental function during the day
- – Trouble focusing and making decisions
- – Lapses in memory
- – Feeling irritable and easily becoming angry
- – Experiencing high blood pressure
- – Feeling chest pain at night
- – Gaining excess weight
- – Ongoing depression
- – Increasing neck size
- – Experiencing frequent morning headaches
- – Making multiple visits to the bathroom during the night
- – Noticing a diminished libido
How Sleep Apnea Presents Itself
When your jawbones aren’t working correctly with your facial and neck muscles, the tongue and airway can become obstructed, causing you to continually stop breathing as you sleep. When that happens, you may notice the symptoms above. While corrective jaw surgery is typically done on patients who are teens and young adults, it can help those who are older to overcome obstructive sleep apnea.
Solving your sleep apnea symptoms with orthognathic surgery first begins with working with your orthodontist to straighten your teeth using braces. Once this alignment is done, jaw surgery can be performed to reposition the jaws and open up the airway so you can breathe in your sleep without issue.
Orthognathic Surgery to Relieve Sleep Apnea
If you are having orthognathic surgery to correct your sleep apnea, you will be treated under general anesthesia so that incisions can be made in the gums and around your jaws. Then the bones can be cut to be repositioned with splints. Next, the bones will be stabilized using small plates and screws you will never feel even after surgery. The gums will then be closed with stitches. As the inflammation gradually subsides, you will want to consume a liquid diet for up to six weeks while your jaws and mouth fully heal.
Ultimately, fixing your teeth and jaw problems with corrective jaw surgery can not only help you overcome your sleep apnea but also help you chew and swallow more easily, relieve jaw pain and headaches, balance your facial appearance, correct a receding chin or protruding jaw, and help alleviate chronic mouth breathing.
If you would like to meet with our doctor to discuss your sleep apnea symptoms, we invite you to give us a call today to schedule an appointment for an evaluation.