Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)

The American Sleep Apnea Association estimates that about 90 million people snore. Nearly half of those people experience what we call simple snoring. But the other half may have a serious sleep disorder called obstructive sleep apnea, also referred to as OSA.

At Lake Forest Oral Surgery, we recognize the dangers of sleep apnea and offer the treatments you need to help you get a good night's rest. As a board-certified oral surgeon, Dr. Suzin Um is highly qualified to diagnose and treat even the most complex sleep apnea cases.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea? 

Apnea occurs when you stop breathing for ten seconds or more. OSA is a sleep-related breathing disorder characterized by severe snoring, long pauses between breaths, and gasping for air. Typically, sleep apnea is the result of a small jaw, loss of muscle tone, enlarged tonsils, or genetics.

Not only does the constant waking and struggling to breathe disrupt a restful sleep, but the lack of a free exchange of air decreases the amount of oxygen in the body, and, without treatment, can lead to:

  • Heart attack
  • Arrhythmia
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • Congestive heart failure
  • Stroke (cerebrovascular accident)

How Is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

OSA is diagnosed with a sleep study called polysomnography that is performed at home or at a sleep center. While you sleep, your blood oxygen level, heart rate, blood pressure, and brain waves are measured and recorded. These measurements provide an Apnea-Hypopnea Index (AHI) that shows the number of events per hour and indicates the severity of sleep apnea.

Men are more likely to have sleep apnea than women, and other risk factors include:

  • A family history of sleep apnea
  • Chronic nasal congestion
  • Large neck or small jaw
  • Narrow airway
  • Overweight

What Are the Signs of Decreased Sleep?

The constant interruptions during the night result in less restful sleep and increased risk for:

  • Daytime fatigue
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Mood changes or depression
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Reduced libido
  • Auto accidents caused by drowsy driving

What Are the Treatments for Sleep Apnea?

Treatment for OSA varies based on the severity of the disorder. Conservative first-line approaches include wearing a CPAP mask (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) or wearing a custom night guard while you sleep that’s designed to position the jaw slightly forward and prevent the tongue from blocking the airway.  

If these treatments aren’t successful, a surgical procedure may be required to open the airway. This might involve moving the jaw forward surgically to open up the airway or repositioning the muscles of the tongue forward to prevent it from falling backward and blocking the flow of air. Genioplasty is another surgical option and is designed to move the chin forward to open the airway.

Call Us to See How We Can Help

If your dentist or doctor has referred you for treatment, you can trust that you’re in good hands with Dr. Suzin Um and the team at Lake Forest Oral Surgery. Please call us so she can evaluate your needs and choose the solution that is most appropriate for you.