Do you use a CPAP machine for sleep apnea? Or has someone close to you complained about your loud snoring? Do you wake most mornings feeling like you haven't had a good night's sleep?
Sleep apnea caused by an obstructed airway is a serious and life-threatening condition. One of the most rewarding things we do is provide a permanent solution for people experiencing sleep apnea due to their small jaw and facial structures.
Jaw surgery corrects the root cause of your airway obstruction, giving you the ability to breathe freely at all times. CPAP treats the effects of a collapsing airway, but doesn't address the underlying issue that produces the obstruction.
Unfortunately, jaw surgery is viewed by many sleep practitioners as something to be avoided at all costs. This is because of outdated misconceptions about the treatment and a lack of training in how it works.
Sleep physicians favour CPAP therapy because that is what their specialist training focuses on. If CPAP provides some improvement to a person's wellbeing, then why consider the option of corrective jaw surgery?
Airway obstruction is a permanent effect of small jaws, which is happening 24 hours a day, not just at night when using a CPAP. Without long-term treatment, you are at risk of serious health issues linked to sleep apnea, such as heart attacks, strokes and heart rhythm problems.
It can also impact your quality of life. How do you exercise when it is difficult to catch your breath? How do you keep up with the limitless energy of your kids? This might be a good time to think about how important breathing freely is for your health.
How does CPAP work?
CPAP uses a machine to help a person with obstructive sleep apnea breathe during sleep. CPAP increases air pressure in your airway to prevent it from collapsing. Sleep physicians consider CPAP as the best non-surgical option for the temporary relief of sleep apnea.
There is no doubt that some individuals benefit from the use of a CPAP machine; after all, we feel more alert and less drowsy after a good night’s sleep. However, CPAP therapy is only effective as long as you follow your sleep physician's recommendations.
But what about those times where you need increased airflow during the day, such as running, playing sport or other exercise; blowing up balloons for a child’s birthday party; even chasing the kids or dog around in the park?
CPAP therapy does come with compromises, and then there’s the machine itself. The CPAP machine is noisy and bulky and some people find wearing a mask during sleep uncomfortable. Transporting the machine for your next holiday can be an issue.
The presence of the machine (let alone the noise) can impact your relationship with your partner. CPAP use often causes a dry nose, sore throat and irritation of the eyes and skin. In addition, the cost of the machine and running it for the remainder of your life can be significant.
If you are unwilling or unable to tolerate the CPAP device, or are looking for a long-term treatment that will improve your breathing in all aspects of life, then jaw surgery might be the right option for you.
How does jaw surgery work?
Jaw surgery to resolve sleep apnea involves surgically moving the upper and lower jaws forward, to improve the flow of air through your airway and into your lungs.
Advancing your lower jaw opens the major airway behind your tongue. Moving your upper jaw forward improves the flow of air through your nose and behind your soft palate. Combining these movements produces dramatic improvement to your ease of breathing.
The ideal jaw surgery procedures for you will depend on the cause of your airway obstruction. In any case, the effects of the surgery are permanent and the benefits you experience will be lifelong.
There is no ongoing care or maintenance required. There are no ongoing costs associated with the surgical treatment after surgery has been completed, and there aren’t any costly supportive machines required to help you to breathe easy at night.
A healthy airway means you can breathe freely, exercise without getting tired easily, and experience quality sleep. Most of all, eliminating sleep apnoea greatly reduces your risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
Where can I find more information?
To learn more about jaw surgery and how it can help you, download our free Jaw Surgery E-Book by clicking here.
‘Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.’