Sleep Apnea

People with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. When obstructive sleep apnea occurs, the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat. This blocks the upper airway and airflow stops. When the oxygen level in the brain becomes low enough, the sleeper partially awakens, the obstruction in the throat clears, and the flow of air starts again, usually with a loud gasp.

Repeated cycles of decreased oxygenation lead to very serious cardiovascular problems. Additionally, these individuals suffer from excessive daytime sleepiness, depression, and loss of concentration.

Some patients have obstructions that are less severe called Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS). In either case, the individuals suffer many of the same symptoms.

The first step in treatment resides in recognition of the symptoms and seeking appropriate consultation. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons offer consultation and treatment options.

In addition to a detailed history, the doctors will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometic (skull x-ray) analysis, the doctors can ascertain the level of obstruction. Sometimes a naso-pharyngeal exam is done with a flexible fiber-optic camera. To confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels, a sleep study may be recommended to monitor an individual overnight.

There are several treatment options available. An initial treatment may consist of using a nasal CPAP machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. One of the surgical options is an uvulo-palato-pharyngo-plasty (UPPP), which is performed in the back of the soft palate and throat. A similar procedure is sometimes done with the assistance of a laser and is called a laser assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (LAUPP). In other cases, a radio-frequency probe is utilized to tighten the soft palate. These procedures are usually performed under light IV sedation in the office.

In more complex cases, the bones of the upper and lower jaw may be repositioned to increase the size of the airway (orthognathic surgery). This procedure is done in the hospital under general anesthesia and requires a one to two day overnight stay in the hospital.

OSA is a very serious condition that needs careful attention and treatment. Most major medical plans offer coverage for diagnosis and treatment.

Atlantic Oral, Implant and Facial Surgery, PA

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I was referred to this office to fix a major screw up by my dentist and thank god I was! The entire office is such a delight. Everyone is pleasant and genuinely cares for the patient. I was seen and scheduled for surgery the following day. Dr Ed called me at 9pm the night of the surgery to make sure I was doing okay. I recommend this office to EVERYONE!!!

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Being new to Charlotte, and having been to a few places for my dental procedures in the past (especially California), I can easily say that this was probably one of the best experiences I have had for an oral procedure. The other one being my referring Dr at Friendly Dental of Ballantyne. Unlike my previous interactions elsewhere, I wasn't sold unnecessary procedures. Dr. Alessandrini was very friendly and explained what to expect after the procedure. The procedure was done exceptionally well and I am surprised that I had such little pain after wisdom teeth extractions. Later that evening, Dr himself called up to check how I was doing and recommended precautionary steps for the next few days. A great experience and no doubt, I will recommend Dr. Alessandrini to all my friends.

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