When you hear the words "sleep apnea," does your mind immediately conjure up a bulky CPAP machine? CPAP can be an effective treatment for sleep apnea, but there are other options that can help you get a good night’s sleep without interfering with your life.
Dr. Hedgecock will work closely with a local sleep specialist to diagnose your sleep apnea and help you decide the type of treatment that best suits your needs, budget, and lifestyle.
CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure. A CPAP machine gently pushes air into the lungs using a mask that covers your mouth and nose. The constant air pressure prevents the tissues in the throat from collapsing, helping you take deep, uninterrupted breaths.
If, however, your reactions are severe or cause intense discomfort, you may be CPAP intolerant. Dr. Hedgecock offers a variety of alternative snoring treatments that can help you sleep better and wake feeling rested.
If CPAP Therapy isn't right for you, there are other options. Oral Appliance Therapy offers a variety of sleep apnea solutions.
- Resmed Narval CC™
- SomnoDent® Flex
- TAP® 3
The most common type of oral appliance for sleep apnea is a mandibular repositioning device (MRD). An MRD slightly resembles an athletic mouthguard, with two arches for the upper and lower jaws. MRDs hold the jaw in a forward position, increasing the space behind the tongue, lifting the palate, and opening the airway. Most MRDs use the same basic physics, but they offer slight differences that make them more suitable for specific situations. Dr. Hedgecock can help you decide which one is right for you.
There are hundreds of FDA-approved oral appliances for sleep apnea treatment, and more are being invented every day. Every patient is different, and Dr. Hedgecock takes great care to recommend the right appliance for you based on your unique needs.
Even if you do find some relief with oral appliance therapy, CPAP, or combination therapy, there are many things you can do to naturally improve your quality of sleep. While these lifestyle changes won’t cure moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea, they’re a great place to start. They’ll also make your sleep apnea treatment more effective, too!
- Lose weight
- Get regular, moderate exercise
- Don’t eat too late in the evening
- Limit caffeine consumption, especially in the afternoon
- Don’t drink alcohol
- Use Breathe Right® strips or similar products
- Sleep on your side instead of your back
- Raise the head of the bed (bed wedges)
When oral appliance therapy, CPAP, and lifestyle changes don’t sufficiently address your sleep apnea, Dr. Hedgecock can refer you to a local oral surgeon or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist who can surgically remove the physical obstructions that are making it difficult for you to breath. Surgery is usually the last option reserved for the most severe cases of sleep apnea.
Maxillomandibular Advancement Surgery (MMA)
This surgery accomplishes essentially the same goal as a removable oral appliance: it pulls the upper and lower jaws forward to tighten the soft palate and enlarge the upper airway. With a success rate of over 94%, MMA tends to be the most successful surgical solution for sleep apnea. The recovery usually requires your jaw to be wired shut for a short period of time while it heals, but some variations on the MMA surgery have a shorter recovery period. As always, it depends on your diagnosis and your unique treatment needs.
Soft Palate Surgery
If Dr. Hedgecock discovers that a bulky soft palate is the culprit of your snoring, he can refer you to an ENT surgeon for soft palate surgery (also known as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP). This procedure is usually performed in combination with the removal of enlarged tonsils or adenoids, which are also known contributors to snoring. Soft palate surgeries pose a number of risks compared to conventional jaw surgeries, so Dr. Hedgecock usually only recommends them for patients with severe physical obstructions in the mouth or throat.
These are just two of the most common surgical solutions for sleep apnea recommended by Austin sleep dentist Dr. Brandon Hedgecock. There are many other viable surgical options that can address the symptoms of sleep apnea, depending on the severity of your OSA as well as the location of the physical obstruction. A qualified team of doctors and surgeons will work together to determine the best course of treatment for you.