Medical and Dental Treatments for Snoring and Sleep Apnea If the strategies previously described do not improve your snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, your physician or sleep disorders specialist may recommend one of the following treatments:
Positional device (anti-snoring cushion). This new device is a natural and non-invasive treatment for snoring. The cushion is worn like a soft, lightweight backpack to position it along the middle of the back. It rests comfortably in place and is not noticeable when you are sleeping on your side or stomach. However, this cushion will prevent you from rolling onto your back during sleep. This cushion can be successful when used alone or in combination with other treatments for snoring or obstructive sleep apnea.
Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment. This is the primary treatment for people with obstructive sleep apnea. The device has a small air blower connected by a flexible hose to a cushioned plastic mask that covers your nose. The blower forces air through the hose and mask into your nose and throat to keep the air passage open during sleep.
Oral appliance therapy. An oral appliance is a small acrylic device that fits over your upper and lower teeth or tongue (similar to an orthodontic retainer or mouth guard). This device slightly advances the lower jaw or tongue, which moves the base of the tongue forward and opens the airway. This improves breathing and reduces snoring and apnea. The appliance is fabricated and customized for each patient by a dentist experienced in the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. The appliance is usually well-tolerated by patients. This treatment is effective for treating people with snoring and mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. It is less effective for treating people with severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Surgery in the throat area or jaw. The most common surgical procedure for treating snoring is laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP). This technique removes a portion of the soft palate and most of the uvula. The treatment is done in the physician's office by a qualified surgeon. It is usually completed in phases, which may require separate surgical procedures. This treatment can be effective in reducing snoring. It is less effective for treating people with moderate or severe obstructive sleep apnea.
A similar but more extensive surgical procedure called uvulopalatopharyngioplasty (UPPP) is done in the hospital. This procedure removes all of the uvula and about one-third of the soft palate. It requires a longer healing time, and it can be effective for treating people with snoring and mild obstructive sleep apnea. It is not as effective for treating people with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea.
Somnoplasty (radio frequency surgery) is a minor surgical procedure completed in the physician's office using local anesthesia and a customized electrode that delivers radio frequency energy to the tongue and/or soft palate. This treatment reduces snoring by creating scarring which decreases vibration of the tissues.