Why would I need surgery for sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea can have a negative impact on your emotional, mental and physical health. Our Edmonton dentist explains this breathing disorder and offer insight on when dental surgery might be necessary. 

What is sleep apnea?

Brief but often frequent interruptions during sleep characterize this serious breathing disorder. 

If your airway becomes partially blocked, the palatal tissues vibrate, which produces the sound we all recognize as snoring. When the airway is completely blocked for periods of time, this is known as obstructive sleep apnea

As you might imagine, this condition can impact patients' mental, emotional and physical health negatively. Many treatment options including oral appliances and CPAP machines are available. In rare cases, surgery may be recommended. We'll explain why in this post.  

How can sleep apnea impact my health?

Have you noticed you've been feeling tired but are unable to get a good night's sleep? Untreated sleep apnea can lead to numerous mental and physical health conditions that can cause a range of symptoms, from interrupted sleep in the short term to putting you at risk for depression, cardiovascular disease and eventually, premature death. 

Symptoms of sleep apnea

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

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

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 many successful treatments for sleep apnea. Depending on your needs, your dentist may recommend:

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.

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.


At Scotia Square Dentistry, we take a non-invasive approach to dental care, reserving surgery for rare cases that can’t be successfully treated with other methods such as 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:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) to remove and reposition excess tissue in the throat and widen the airway.
  • Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction (RFVTR) to shrink and tighten tissues in and around the throat.
  • Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction to straighten a bent or deviated nasal septum.
  • 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.
  • Maxillomandibular osteotomy (MMO) and advancement (MMA) for people with severe sleep apnea. The bones of the jaws are cut and will heal over months.

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.

Do you have questions about sleep apnea treatments and how they can help? Our Edmonton dentist can assess and diagnose your condition, and recommend a treatment that works for you. Contact us today.

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