When airflow during sleep causes the tissues of the palate (roof of the mouth) and throat to vibrate, snoring can occur. When these oral tissues are loose or flabby — which can be a natural trait or caused by weight gain or aging — snoring becomes more likely, but anyone of any size or age can be a snorer. On its own, snoring is not dangerous, but it can be bothersome — especially for sleeping partners! In some cases, snoring can be a sign of a more serious problem, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Obstructive sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by shallow breaths or long pauses in breathing during sleep. These pauses and/or shallow breaths cause disruptions in the sleeping pattern, taking the sleeper from a deep sleep state to a lighter sleep state; sometimes to the point of waking. Avon Oral, Facial and Dental Implant Surgery offers surgical procedures to correct snoring as well as sleep apnea. When you have your consultation, our oral surgeons will be able to determine if you’re a candidate for surgical treatment. These procedures are usually simple enough to perform in the offices, depending on your condition’s severity.
Many patients discover they are suffering from sleep apnea after years of feeling very tired in the morning, despite thinking they slept all the way through the night. A diagnosis of sleep apnea will often be given based on a person’s medical history, but there are several tests that can be used to confirm the diagnosis. When sleep apnea is caused by a physical obstruction of the airway during sleep, it can often be treated surgically by an oral and maxillofacial surgeon — patients are frequently referred to our practice for surgery by a sleep specialist or by a general physician.
The symptoms of sleep apnea may include
- Sleepiness during the day
- Inability to concentrate
- Memory problems
- Unexplained headaches
- Difficulty performing work/school duties
In addition, sleep apnea will often disrupt the sleep of a bed partner, resulting in insomnia and its associated indicators.
If not diagnosed and treated properly, obstructive sleep apnea can cause certain serious health conditions. Some of these complications may include
- High blood pressure/hypertension
- Heart disease/heart failure
- Heart attack
- Pulmonary hypertension
Generally, the procedures to correct snoring and sleep apnea involve removing, shrinking, or stiffening excess tissue in the mouth and throat, or possibly resetting the position of the upper jaw, lower jaw, or both jaws to widen breathing passages.
Radiofrequency Coblation of the Palate/Coblation Assisted Palate Channeling/Uvulectomy
One of the treatments for snoring and sleep apnea that we provide at our practice is radiofrequency coblation of the palate, also known as coblation assisted palate channeling. This minimally invasive procedure uses radio frequency (RF) energy to reduce and tighten excess tissue of the soft tissues of the palate to help decrease the vibration and obstruction that typically causes snoring and sleep apnea. It is performed in our comfortable surgical suite under local anesthesia and generally takes about 20 minutes.
In a palate coblation procedure, the use of radio frequency (RF) energy is used to stimulate the body’s natural response to form scar tissue, which stiffens the soft palate during healing. Because palate coblation uses low-frequency RF energy, it does not typically cause as much discomfort as laser devices or other more invasive procedures. This procedure is often performed in conjunction with uvulectomy (removal of the uvula — the fleshy extension of tissue at the back of the palate that hangs above the throat).
Many of our patients who have undergone palate coblation/uvulectomy report a reduction in snoring within about six weeks. It is not always a permanent solution, but the procedure can provide years of relief and provides an excellent adjunct to nonsurgical treatment in selected patients. During your consultation appointment, the doctors at Avon Oral, Facial and Dental Implant Surgery will determine if you’re a candidate for this procedure.
Treatment for Sleep Apnea and Snoring
While nonsurgical treatments for snoring and sleep apnea abound, these don’t often have much of an effect, and patients often come to us in search of a surgical solution after trying everything in the book. If you believe you could benefit from surgical treatment of your sleep apnea or snoring, please give Avon Oral, Facial and Dental Implant Surgery a call to schedule a consultation with one of our surgeons. Drs. Lieblich, Fletcher, and Gill will be happy to discuss your options and create a treatment plan that may help you (and your loved ones) get a good night’s sleep!