The Oral Surgeon’s Role in Sleep: Treating Sleep Apnea and Snoring

sleep apnea & snoring treatment with oral surgery in ann arbor - new era dental

Sleep is essential for our overall health and well-being, yet millions of people suffer from sleep disorders that disrupt their rest and impact their quality of life. Two common sleep disorders, sleep apnea and snoring, can have serious health consequences if left untreated. While many may think of sleep specialists or ENT (ear, nose, and throat) doctors as the primary caregivers for these issues, oral surgeons also play a crucial role in diagnosing and treating sleep apnea and snoring.

Here we explore the significant contributions of oral surgeons in sleep medicine and how they can help you achieve a better night’s sleep.

Understanding Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions, known as apneas, can last from a few seconds to over a minute and may occur numerous times per night. There are three types of sleep apnea:

1. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): The most common form, caused by the relaxation of throat muscles that block the airway.

2. Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): Occurs when the brain fails to send proper signals to the muscles that control breathing.

3. Complex Sleep Apnea Syndrome: A combination of both obstructive and central sleep apnea.


Snoring is a common condition that can affect anyone but is more prevalent in men and people who are overweight. It occurs when the flow of air through the mouth and nose is partially obstructed during sleep, causing the surrounding tissues to vibrate and produce the characteristic sound.

While occasional snoring is usually not a cause for concern, chronic snoring can be a sign of a more serious condition like sleep apnea.

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The Impact of Untreated Sleep Disorders

Untreated sleep apnea and chronic snoring can lead to numerous health problems, including:

  • Cardiovascular Issues: Increased risk of hypertension, heart attack, stroke, and irregular heartbeats.
  • Daytime Fatigue: Excessive daytime sleepiness, leading to impaired concentration and increased risk of accidents.
  • Metabolic Disorders: Greater likelihood of developing diabetes and obesity.
  • Mental Health Problems: Heightened risk of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
  • Decreased Quality of Life: Poor sleep quality can negatively affect overall well-being, relationships, and productivity.

The Role of Oral Surgeons in Sleep Medicine

Oral surgeons, also known as oral and maxillofacial surgeons, are dental specialists trained to diagnose and treat a wide range of conditions affecting the mouth, jaws, face, and neck. Their expertise in these areas makes them uniquely qualified to address certain aspects of sleep medicine, particularly sleep apnea and snoring.

Diagnosis and Evaluation

Oral surgeons can work in collaboration with sleep specialists to diagnose sleep disorders. This often involves:

  • Comprehensive Medical History: Assessing the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and risk factors.
  • Physical Examination: Conducting a thorough examination of the oral and maxillofacial region to identify anatomical factors contributing to sleep apnea or snoring.
  • Imaging Studies: Utilizing imaging techniques like X-rays, CT scans, or MRIs to visualize the airway and surrounding structures.

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Treatment Options

Once a diagnosis is made, oral surgeons can offer several treatment options for sleep apnea and snoring:

1. Oral Appliances: Custom-made devices that patients wear during sleep to keep the airway open. These appliances can reposition the jaw, tongue, and soft palate to prevent airway obstruction. Oral surgeons are skilled in fitting and adjusting these appliances for maximum effectiveness and comfort.

2. Surgical Interventions: In cases where oral appliances are insufficient or inappropriate, surgical options may be considered. Oral surgeons can perform various procedures, including:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): Removing excess tissue from the throat to widen the airway.
  • Genioglossus Advancement (GA): Repositioning the tongue muscle attachment to prevent airway collapse.
  • Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA): Repositioning the upper and lower jaws to enlarge the airway and improve breathing.
  • Nasal Surgery: Correcting nasal obstructions that contribute to snoring and sleep apnea.

3. Lifestyle Modifications: Oral surgeons can also provide guidance on lifestyle changes that may improve sleep apnea and snoring, such as weight management, smoking cessation, and avoiding alcohol and sedatives before bedtime.

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Benefits of Seeing an Oral Surgeon for Sleep Apnea and Snoring

Comprehensive Care

Oral surgeons offer a holistic approach to treating sleep disorders, addressing both the symptoms and underlying causes. Their extensive training in dental and surgical procedures ensures that patients receive comprehensive care tailored to their specific needs.

Customized Solutions

Each patient’s anatomy and condition are unique. Oral surgeons can provide personalized treatment plans that consider individual anatomical differences, ensuring the most effective outcomes.

Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Oral surgeons often work closely with other healthcare providers, including sleep specialists, ENT doctors, and primary care physicians. This collaborative approach ensures that patients receive the best possible care and a coordinated treatment plan.

Don’t Lose Sleep Over – Consult Your Local Oral Surgeon

If you or someone you love is struggling with sleep apnea or snoring, it’s essential to seek help from a qualified professional. Oral surgeons near you, with extensive knowledge of the oral and maxillofacial region, can play a vital role in diagnosing and treating these common sleep disorders.

Don’t let sleep apnea or snoring rob you of the restful, restorative sleep you need to lead a healthy and happy life. Call 734-808-0000 or click to contact New Era Dental today to schedule a consultation.

With the help of your oral surgeon, you can take control of your sleep health and wake up feeling refreshed and ready to face the day.