There are many potential treatments for obstructive sleep apnea, including oral appliances, CPAP, and surgery. These treatments all attack sleep apnea from a different angle, and all are slightly different in their effectiveness at targeting different types of obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is often categorized into three different types. Type I is when the airway collapses in the retropalatal region (the upper airway between the nose and mouth). Type II is when the airway collapses in both the retropalatal region and the retroglossal region(the part of the airway behind the tongue, sometimes called the retrolingual region), and type III is when the collapse occurs only in the retroglossal region.
Now a new study has proven the effectiveness of videoendoscopy for identifying the regions of the airway most likely to collapse during apneic events. In this technique, a flexible fiber optic camera is inserted into the airway with the patient at the seated erect position and then at the reclined position and the change in the width of the airway between these two positions. In the study, performed by researchers from the University Sains Malaysia, it was shown that nearly 85% of the patients had significant obstruction in the retropalatal region (i.e. were likely either type I or type II obstructive sleep apnea sufferers) .
The significance of this proportion is significant because oral appliance therapy is most effective at treating retrolingual OSA, although it has also been shown to improve retropalatal OSA. This means that many people may not get full benefit from this much more comfortable and convenient form of obstructive sleep apnea treatment and may be forced to use either CPAP or surgery.
If you would like to learn more about your sleep apnea and sleep apnea treatment options, please contact a local sleep dentist today.