Use of a CPAP (Continuous positive airway pressure) machine is often the most common method used to treat sleep apnea, but it isn’t right for everyone. Some people don’t respond to treatment with a CPAP machine, others find having to use a large, cumbersome machine every evening difficult. That is when oral surgery may be an option.

In some cases, oral surgery may be able to be used as a form of treatment for sleep apnea. Discover more about how oral surgery may help people with sleep apnea and learn about the risks and benefits associated with this treatment.

What Type of Oral Surgery is Used to Treat Sleep Apnea?

Sometimes obstructive sleep apnea is caused by the improper alignment of the jaw. If the jaw is recessed or too small, it can cause a temporary blockage to the airway, which results in sleep apnea. Correcting the alignment of the jaw can sometimes successfully treat sleep apnea.

A type of oral surgery often called bimaxillary advancement or maxillomandibular advancement is commonly used for the treatment of sleep apnea. This type of surgery will move the jaw and put it into its proper placement. By correcting the position of the jaw, there is a lower risk of having the airway obstructed, therefore sleep apnea is a successful treatment.

Who is a Good Candidate for Oral Surgery for Sleep Apnea?

Oral surgery is often not used as a first treatment option for sleep apnea. There are a number of risks involved with this type of oral surgery.

Doctors will often recommend considering oral surgery in the following situations:

  • Younger individuals who suffer from sleep apnea as a result of jaw abnormalities that were present at birth or developed while growing
  • People who do not respond well to non-surgical sleep apnea treatment
  • People who are looking for a possible, permanent treatment option for sleep apnea

What are the Risks Involved with This Type of Oral Surgery?

As with any surgery, there are a number of risks involved with jaw surgery for sleep apnea. This type of surgery is risky because it is more complex than traditional jaw realignment surgery or other oral surgeries.

Oral surgery for sleep apnea is more complex because the jaw needs to be moved considerably during the procedure. In order to properly treat sleep apnea, the upper, lower, or in some cases, both upper and lower jaw will need to be moved forward. Moving the jaw forward so much is a procedure that is technically more complex.

Other risks associated with this type of oral surgery include:

  • Lengthy recovery period
  • High risk of infection
  • After-procedure swelling can cause difficulty breathing – in some cases a tracheotomy is recommended to temporarily help with breathing after surgery
  • Damage or injury to the teeth
  • Uncomfortable changes in bite
  • Facial numbness that may or may not go away
  • Bleeding
  • Weakening of the jaw
  • Changes in your appearance
  • Development of TMJ

What to Expect After Oral Surgery for Sleep Apnea?

The oral surgery recovery process for sleep apnea is lengthy. If you undergo this type of surgery, you can expect to experience the following:

  • Recovery will take anywhere from four months to a year
  • Restrictions will be placed on food and drinks for at least the first six weeks
  • Pain and swelling may occur for several weeks after surgery
  • Additional surgeries may be needed
  • Speech therapy may be needed

Think oral surgery for sleep apnea may be right for you? Call Sedaros Oral Facial Surgery and Dental Implants to schedule a consultation.

Dr. Sedaros will look at x-rays, digital imaging, and health records to determine if you are a good candidate for oral surgery. If you are a good candidate for surgery, Dr. Sedaros will explain in detail the procedure and help you understand any risks involved. If you determine this is a treatment you wish to pursue, Dr. Sedaros will schedule you for surgery at a later date.