Center for Sleep Medicine
Other Treatment Options
Beyond the CPAP, other treatments for sleep apnea exist. However, currently there are no medicines for the treatment of sleep apnea.
A mouthpiece (dental appliance) may be helpful in some people with mild sleep apnea. Some physicians may also recommend this if you snore loudly but do not have sleep apnea. A Dentist or Orthodontist usually makes custom-fit plastic mouthpieces. An Orthodontist is a specialist in correcting teeth or jaw problems.
Follow up with your Dentist or Orthodontist to check for side effects and to be sure that your mouthpiece fits correctly. You will also need to follow-up with your Sleep Specialist as a repeat sleep study is usually recommended with the mouthpiece in place to make sure it is controlling your sleep apnea.
Some patients with sleep apnea may benefit from surgery. The type of surgery depends on the cause of the sleep apnea.
- Tonsillectomy may be done to remove the tonsils and adenoids if they are blocking the airway. This surgery is especially helpful for children.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (U-vu-lo-PAL-a-to-fa-RIN-go-plas-te) is a surgery that removes the uvula (the tissue that hangs from the middle of the back of the roof of the mouth) and part of your soft palate (the roof of your mouth in the back of your throat). This surgery is only effective for some people with mild sleep apnea.
- Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (U-vu-lo-PAL-a-to-plas-te) is a surgery that can stop snoring but is not helpful in treating sleep apnea. A laser device is used to remove the uvula and part of the soft palate. Because this surgery stops the main symptom of sleep apnea (snoring), it is important to have a sleep study first.
- Tracheostomy (TRA-ke-OS-to-me) is a surgery used in severe sleep apnea. A small hole is made in the windpipe and a tube is inserted. Air will flow through the tube and into the lungs, bypassing the airway obstruction. This surgery is very successful but is needed only in patients not responding to all other possible treatments.
Other possible surgeries for some people with sleep apnea include:
- Surgery on the nose
- Rebuilding the lower jaw
- Surgery to treat obesity