sleep apnea
Sleep Apnea

Dr. Charlotte Marvil of Apex Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Mount Pleasant, SC remains on the leading edge of industry developments in treating sleep apnea. Dr. Marvil and her team use modern techniques and advanced procedures to safely and effectively provide the best and highest quality treatment available.

What is Sleep Apnea?

People who snore loudly are often the target of bad jokes and middle of the night elbow thrusts; but snoring is no laughing matter. For many people of all ages, loud, habitual snoring may indicate a potentially life threatening disorder: Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or OSA.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted or stops during sleep. In most instances, the individual is unaware of these breathing cessations, as they do not prompt a complete awakening.

People with OSA have disrupted sleep and low blood oxygen levels. This is caused by an airway blockage, most often when the tongue is sucked against the back of the throat causing the soft tissue in the back of the throat to collapse during sleep. Consequently, 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, or snore.

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

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

It is important to distinguish between snoring and OSA. Many people snore. It’s estimated that approximately 30 percent to 50 percent of the US population snore at one time or another, some significantly. Snoring can cause several problems, including marital discord, sleep disturbances and waking episodes sometimes caused by one’s own snoring. But, snoring does not always equal OSA.

What are the Symptoms of Sleep Apnea?

Common symptoms of OSA are daytime drowsiness or complaints of snoring and breathing cessations observed by a bed partner. Other symptoms may include:

  • Snoring with pauses in breathing (apnea)

    symptoms of sleep apnea
    symptoms of sleep apnea
  • Excessive daytime drowsiness
  • Gasping or choking during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Problem with mental function
  • Poor judgment and/or focus
  • Memory loss
  • High blood pressure
  • Nighttime chest pain
  • Depression
  • Problem with excess weight
  • Airway crowding
  • Morning headaches
  • Reduced libido
How is Sleep Apnea Diagnosed?

If you exhibit OSA symptoms, visit an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon for a complete examination and an accurate diagnosis. Apex Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery offers both consultation and treatment options for OSA.

To understand the severity of the patient’s sleep apnea and to provide a guideline for future treatment, a naso-pharyngeal exam is often conducted. Also, a sleep study is necessary to confirm the amount of cardiovascular compromise and decreased oxygenation levels and make an accurate diagnosis.

Additionally, the doctor will assess the anatomic relationships in the maxillofacial region. With cephalometic (skull x-ray) analysis, the doctors can determine the level of obstruction.

How is Sleep Apnea Treated?

Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be effectively treated.  Depending on it’s severity, multiple treatment options are available.

For mild cases of OSA, behavior modification may also be used. Modifications can include weight loss; avoiding alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals within two hours of bedtime; no sedatives; and a change of sleeping positions. In mild cases, these practical interventions may improve or even cure snoring and sleep apnea.

Another common and reliable treatment utilizes a nasal Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) machine that delivers pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit obstruction at night. The machine is to be worn during sleep and allows for the obstruction to be bypassed by intermittent air that is administered via a nose- or mouth-mask.

However, some patients are unable to tolerate a CPAP machine. In some of these cases, oral appliances that reposition the mandible forward, therefore reposition the base of the tongue and soft tissue, can be utilized.

For more extreme cases of OSA, surgical intervention may be a viable alternative. However, it is important to note that surgery is the last option and it is difficult to get insurance companies to cover it. Surgical OSA treatment involves soft tissue surgery to minimize the source of the obstruction, followed by jaw and orthognathic surgery to reposition the upper and lower jaw. By changing the landscape of your oral tissues and airway, surgical treatment can eliminate the cause of obstructive sleep apnea when all other treatments have failed. Dr. Marvil has considerable experience and the necessary training and skill to perform these surgical procedures.  These surgical procedures are performed in a hospital setting with anesthesia to ensure the complete comfort of our patients. Dr. Marvil has hospital privileges at East Cooper Medical Center and Trident Medical Center.

Am I a Candidate for Sleep Apnea Surgery?

If a patient has already tried Continuous Positive Airflow Pressure (CPAP) therapy in addition to self-help treatment recommendations, he or she may benefit from surgical treatment.

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

Contact us today to learn more about how Dr. Marvil and our team can help with your sleep apnea!