An estimated 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, a condition that causes interrupted breathing during sleep. This can lead to a lack of sleep, development of other health conditions, and a decrease in the quality of life. Although there are many causes of sleep apnea, jaw problems are often a contributing factor. Jaw surgery can help many patients with sleep apnea to find relief from this dangerous and exhausting disorder.
The Jaw and Breathing
The jaws are essential for proper breathing, eating, and speech. We use them every day and often take them for granted. Although breathing primarily occurs through the nose, the jaws are responsible for keeping the back-up airway, the mouth, open so it can be used as needed. When nasal congestion occurs, mouth breathing takes over, and the jaws help keep the air passages open so breathing continues uninterrupted. When the jaws aren’t properly aligned, this important air passage may be blocked, and our bodies may be unable to obtain the necessary oxygen.
Jaw misalignment can cause a variety of health and breathing issues including:
- Back pain
- Shoulder pain
- Neck pain
- Hearing issues, including ringing in the ears
- Jaw pain
- Sleep apnea
Bringing the jaws into alignment can alleviate many of these symptoms. Many of our patients have found relief from their sleep apnea after corrective jaw surgery.
What Is Orthognathic Surgery?
Corrective jaw surgery also called orthognathic surgery, repositions the jaws to create alignment. This improves appearance, corrects bite issues, and often alleviates health and breathing issues, like sleep apnea.
Jaw surgery is never one size fits all. Some patients will need to have the jaw shortened or lengthened. Other patients may require repositioning of the upper or lower jaw. We perform jaw surgery on either the upper or lower jaw, and often both jaws together.
Jaw Surgery for Sleep Apnea
The most common type of jaw surgery for sleep apnea patients is called maxillomandibular advancement. This procedure moves the upper and lower jaws forward to enlarge the airway. This increases space for both the soft palate and the tongue. This procedure can dramatically improve breathing for many sleep apnea patients. Talk to your doctor about other potential treatments to explore all of your options.
Do I Need Jaw Surgery for My Sleep Apnea?
Jaw surgery is typically needed when the teeth and jaws don’t properly meet. Orthodontia can correct some problems with bite when they are caused exclusively by the teeth. If the jaw bones are not in alignment, jaw surgery is recommended.
If you have sleep apnea, we may be able to help. Come in for a consultation and we can discuss the procedure in more detail and determine if you’re a good candidate.
Can jaw surgery cure sleep apnea? Many of our patients have experienced positive improvement from sleep apnea after jaw surgery at Hill Country Oral Surgery. Jaw surgery in Austin, TX can also improve the aesthetic appearance of the face and jaw and address many health and breathing issues. To find out if you’re a good candidate for this procedure, come in for a consultation. Our skilled oral surgeons can evaluate your jaw positioning and medical history to determine if you will benefit from this procedure.