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sleep_apnea_OPTSnoring may seem normal or harmless, but it could mean something is wrong. In fact, snoring is one of the most common signs of sleep apnea, which can be a life-threatening disorder if left untreated.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea happens when a person’s tongue is sucked against the back of the throat and blocks the airway. When the oxygen level drops low enough, the person will partially wake and gasp to correct the problem. This usually occurs multiple times during the night.

Signs and Symptoms

Those who suffer from sleep apnea often snore while they sleep – but this isn’t always the case. During the day, sufferers may notice they’re depressed and tired or have a hard time concentrating. Sleep apnea can also lead to serious cardiovascular issues.

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

If you suffer from these symptoms and believe you have sleep apnea, consult an oral surgeon. The surgeon will ask you questions about your history and evaluate your maxillofacial (jaw and face) region. An x-ray will be ordered to get an accurate assessment of your anatomical facial structure, and a sleep study may be scheduled to identify any cardiovascular issues.

Treating Sleep Apnea 

There are various treatment options available for sleep apnea. Some patients use a machine known as a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This device provides oxygen through a mask that’s worn throughout the night. There are also surgical options available. These are known as maxilla-mandibular advancement (MMA).

MMA (Maxilla-Mandibular Advancement)

Maxilla-Mandibular Advancement (MMA) is an oral surgery where the upper and lower jaws are moved forward allowing the entire airway to be enlarged. The patient’s bite is conserved through the use of small titanium plates and screws, as well as braces and rubber bands. MMA does not impact speech or swallowing, though some minor changes in facial appearance may occur.

For patients with moderate to severe sleep apnea, MMA is the most effective surgical treatment. The procedure is usually completed in the hospital and requires a one- to two-night stay for observation.

Most medical plans cover sleep apnea treatment, so there’s no reason not to have an assessment if you believe you suffer from this condition. If you’re concerned you may have sleep apnea, schedule a consultation with a surgeon from OMSNashville.