Sleep Apnea

What is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OAS) is a disorder consisting of repeated episodes of pauses in breathing during sleep, known as apnoeas, normally lasting for more than 10 seconds. The main cause of obstruction is the collapse of the walls of the upper airway.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OAS) affects just over 25% of the population and has a negative effect on the quality of life of sufferers. Not only does it disturb their rest during the night, which, in extreme cases, could even lead to death, but also their daily activity, accompanied by drowsiness and chronic fatigue. Even more serious still, Sleep Apnea causes a reduction in oxygen transported by the blood, resulting in arterial hypertension, cardiovascular disease, metabolic and hormonal alterations and an increased risk of accident.

Symptoms associated with Sleep Apnea

The presence of two of the following symptoms, in the absence of other causes, could be an indicator of Obstructive Sleep Apnea:

  • Irregular, loud and interrupted snoring accompanied by apneas during sleep.
  • Tiredness during the day.
  •  Chronic fatigue.
síntomas asociados a la apnea del sueño

Diagnostic test

Diagnosis of Sleep Apnea is carried out by means of a test called a polysomnography, which monitors several variables during sleep, using special devices. This test is carried out by the Neurophysiology team, and being a multidisciplinary disorder, the maxillofacial surgeons have to coordinate with the entire team of specialists, which usually includes neurologists, neurophysiologists and otolaryngologists.

tratamiento de la apnea del sueño: niveles de actuación

Treatment of Sleep Apnea: levels of action

There are normally four levels of action in the treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: 

One of the treatments recommended for many years has been CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which is a device worn at night, consisting of a mask connected to a machine which pumps in pressurised air to prevent the collapse of the patient’s airways. Most patients who have suffered from Sleep Apnoea describe the CPAP as a “horrendous” machine. Intolerance to the noise and the mask, nasal congestion and irritation of the mucous membranes make 70% of patients want to stop using the CPAP and find a more comfortable and effective alternative.

Mandibular advancement dental splints constitute a diagnostic element and a temporary solution for less serious cases of Sleep Apnea. According to recent studies, prolonged use of this splint can cause alteration of the bite and deterioration of the temporomandibular joint.

However, thanks to the continuous dedication and intense research into Obstructive Sleep Apnea, the specialists at the Maxillofacial Institute, along with other international groups, have scientifically demonstrated that orthognathic surgery provides a definitive solution to this serious problem in patients with dentofacial deformities. See article: Effect of Mono and Bimaxillary Advancement on Pharyngeal Airway Volume: Cone-Beam Computed Tomography Evaluation