While millions of Americans have Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), the most common of the three types of sleep apnea, very few people will ever need surgery to correct the problem. So, to answer the question, “Do you need sleep apnea surgery?” the short answer is, “No.”

For Des Moines, Iowa, residents losing sleep due to sleep apnea and facing daytime struggles due to sleep apnea, there are other, more conservative, highly effective treatments for sleep apnea. Once you find the right Des Moines sleep apnea dentist with the experience and knowledge necessary to treat OSA, your quality of life without sleep apnea will greatly improve.

If you or someone you love suffers from sleep apnea, you know it can certainly take a toll on your physical, emotional, and psychological health. The signs and symptoms of sleep apnea are numerous, and the negative effects of sleep apnea are even more numerous. Let’s first take a look at what sleep apnea is, then examine what may trigger sleep apnea, and finally, explore what Des Moines sleep apnea treatments are available instead of what is always the sleep apnea dentist’s last resort: surgery.

young adult man snoring in bed

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

As previously stated, there are three types of sleep apnea: obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), central sleep apnea, and complex sleep apnea (a combination of the first two). Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes obstructed with collapsing tissue while you sleep. When oxygen is cut off due to a collapsed airway, the brain alerts the heart to keep beating, but the person with sleep apnea will gasp or choke for breath since the collapsed tissue has blocked the airway.

The cessation of sleeping could happen hundreds of times per night. If you stop sleeping for ten seconds or more at a time and wake up the next day feeling tired, there’s a very good chance you have obstructive sleep apnea. It’s uncommon to wake up every time you stop breathing with sleep apnea, and some people never wake up during a sleep apnea episode. For this reason, many people don’t even know they have sleep apnea until a Des Moines sleep apnea dentist picks up on it (or their partner begs them to get help!).

If you’ve been told you snore, you may have sleep apnea because snoring and sleep apnea are very closely connected. There’s also an interesting link between sleep apnea and temporomandibular joint disorders, commonly known as TMJ or TMD.

What May Trigger Sleep Apnea?

Researchers have been studying the causes of sleep apnea for years. While the reasons someone may have sleep apnea and another person may not are still being studied, it is known that there are certain things that contribute to sleep apnea, including:

  • Excessive weight
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids
  • Excessive overbite
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Menopause
  • Large neck circumference
  • Smoking

Sleep Apnea Treatment

CPAP has always been the gold standard when it comes to treating sleep apnea in Des Moines, Iowa. CPAP stands for Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and consists of a mask and a hose attached to a machine. The person who uses CPAP will sleep with the mask on the face, and the CPAP machine will ensure the airway remains unblocked while the person sleeps. Unfortunately, many people cannot tolerate the CPAP machine because of its bulky size, the feeling of having something over the face, and the noise emitted by the machine as it runs all night.

Sleep apnea dentists in Des Moines are also finding great success with Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). A wonderful alternative to sleep apnea surgery, Oral Appliance Therapy means wearing a custom-designed oral splint (sometimes referred to as a mouth guard) while you sleep. The oral appliance moves your jaw slightly forward, so your airway won’t collapse and become blocked while you sleep. You can take your oral appliance anywhere you travel, so it’s a convenient, effective, and comfortable way to treat sleep apnea without surgery.

You Don’t Need Sleep Apnea Surgery in Des Moines, Iowa

If you think you may have sleep apnea, a sleep study will confirm your diagnosis. Once you have an “official” sleep apnea diagnosis, you can begin treatment for sleep apnea in Des Moines without having sleep apnea surgery. Please contact Dr. Douglas Pick at Iowa Sleep & TMJ by calling (515) 222-0505 or filling out our online contact form, so one of our sleep apnea team members can reach out by phone or email.