Sleep Apnea Treatment in Birmingham
Comfortable & effective treatment for Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person experiences repeated pauses in their breathing during sleep. It comes from the Greek “apnea,” meaning “without breath.” The most common type of sleep apnea is “obstructive sleep apnea,” which results when the soft tissues at the back of the throat relax during sleep causing a blockage of the airway.
Dr. Sema partners with Dr. Chris Vlachos who treats patients for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. During a thorough consultation, Dr. Vlachos will go over all your options for treating your sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is treated with oral appliances, mouthguard-like devices that keep the airways open, and with CPAP therapy (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure), which pumps in a steady stream of air to keep the airways open. Weight also contributes to sleep apnea problems, so weight loss is usually recommend as well.
Where the sleep apnea is very severe, or caused by a physical abnormality that obstructs the airways, surgery might be an option. Dr. Sema may recommend surgery to move the lower jaw (mandible) forward so that the airway is permanently enlarged. Jaw movement is done with a combination of braces and surgery.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliances are similar to mouth guards, except instead of protecting the teeth from trauma, they protect the wearer’s airway from collapsing. How does this work? Well, the customized oral appliance’s function is quite simple: it shifts the lower jaw forward and holds it in place while you sleep. This movement forward creates a wider airway and greatly reduces the chances that the airway will collapse from gravitational forces.
Dr. Vlachos can create a custom oral appliance with the correct dimensions to move your lower jaw forward to the right position for easier breathing while you sleep.
The CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device is used to treat patients with severe sleep apnea. The machine uses a face mask and small air pump to continuously maintain air pressure in the airway. This is to keep the airway from collapsing from gravitational forces as one sleeps on their back.
Though the CPAP is useful and effective for preventing sleep apnea from occurring, many patients find it bulky and difficult to use on a regular basis. The failure rate of long-term CPAP usage has led to alternatives for treating sleep apnea, such as orthognathic surgery.
Patient success story
“I was a heavy snorer and my wife noticed my breathing was pausing. I went to the doctor and was diagnosed with severe sleep apnea and put on CPAP treatment, which did handle my condition. Three years ago I became aware of a jaw surgery to correct sleep apnea. I was excited that there was a solution that would permanently handle my sleep apnea and take away the necessity of CPAP treatment.
“I went to Dr. Sema who fitted me with braces to start the jaw movement. She did a great job, she had to anticipate how the teeth would look after the surgery as well as plan the movement necessary, and at the end of it I got the added bonus of straighter teeth!” – Jeff
To make an appointment, call 205‑900‑4705 or click here to request an appointment online.