Sleep Apnea Treatment
A mouthpiece (oral appliance) may be helpful in some people with mild sleep apnea. Some healthcare providers may also recommend this if you snore loudly but do not have sleep apnea.
A custom-fit plastic mouthpiece is made by a dentist or orthodontist. (An orthodontist is a specialist in correcting teeth or jaw problems.) The mouthpiece will adjust your lower jaw and your tongue to help keep the airway in your throat open while you are sleeping. Air can then flow easily into your lungs because there is less resistance to breathing.
Possible side effects of the mouthpiece include damage to your:
Be sure to follow up with your dentist or orthodontist to check for any side effects and to be sure that your mouthpiece fits correctly.
For some people with sleep apnea, treatment may include surgery. The type of surgery depends on the cause of the sleep apnea. The most common types of surgery for sleep apnea include:
- Surgery to remove the tonsils and adenoids if they are blocking the airway. This surgery is especially helpful for children.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgery that removes the tonsils, uvula (the tissue that hangs from the middle of the back of the roof of the mouth), and part of your soft palate (roof of your mouth in the back of your throat). This surgery is only effective for some people with sleep apnea.
- Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is a surgery that can stop snoring but is probably not helpful in treating sleep apnea. A laser device is used to remove the uvula and part of the soft palate. Because the main symptom of sleep apnea -- snoring -- is stopped, it is important to have a sleep study before having this surgery.
- Tracheostomy is a surgery used in severe sleep apnea. A small hole is made in the windpipe and a tube is inserted. Air will flow through the tube and into the lungs. This surgery is very successful but is needed only in patients not responding to all other possible treatments.
Other possible surgeries used to treat sleep apnea can include:
- Surgery to rebuild the lower jaw
- Surgery of the nose
- Surgery to treat obesity.