Ear, Nose and Throat (Otolaryngology) – Head and Neck Surgery

Nonsurgical/Office-Based Sleep Treatments

Snoring is often the first sign of sleep apnea and the treatment of snoring begins with the determination of whether sleep apnea is present (see the Sleep Apnea Diagnostics page). The consequences of allowing sleep apnea to go untreated can be grave. However, if sleep apnea is determined not to be a factor, snoring can be treated with a multitude of nonsurgical (in-office) options. These include:

Oral appliances (mandibular advancement devices): similar to a mouth guard, these can be made specifically for your bite to bring the jaw forward and open the airway further. An evaluation in the office can gauge the possible improvement in the airway via jaw advancement and determine your candidacy for the appliance. These devices can also be helpful in treating sleep apnea in some patients.

Medications/nasal sprays/nasal strips: Nasal obstruction can cause dysfunctional airflow in the upper airway and can play an important role in sleep apnea and snoring. The cause of nasal airflow problems can be a deviated nasal septum, enlarged nasal turbinates, a narrowed nasal opening, nasal polyps, allergies or other irritants causing swollen mucosa, or commonly a combination of them all. Medical treatment options are typically the initial approach to target nasal obstruction; these include nasal saline irrigations, nasal steroid sprays, oral allergy medications, and an allergy evaluation. External nasal dilators such as the Breathe Right® nasal strips can be used for some cases with narrowed nasal openings. When medical treatment alone is not successful, surgery or an office procedure can improve the nasal airway. The most common nasal procedures include turbinate reduction, septoplasty, septorhinoplasty, and sinus surgery.

Radiofrequency technology: this short office procedure, performed under local anesthesia, tightens the tissue of the soft palate and uvula to reduce the vibrations that cause snoring. This technique does not require any loss of work or restrictions in activity post-treatment. The procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and does not change speech or swallowing function. Radiofrequency in the office can also be used to open the nasal airway to improve breathing at night. This is also done under local anesthesia and takes approximately 30 minutes. Heavy lifting and straining is generally limited for 1-2 weeks. Surgery is an option for severe cases of excess palate or uvular tissue and nasal obstruction.

Pillar implants: this office-based procedure aims to stiffen the palate through implanted silicone rods that cause scarring, thereby decreasing the vibrations related to snoring.

The sleep surgery team has vast experience diagnosing and treating all stages and types of conditions that lead to snoring. We work in a multidisciplinary team of experts, including dental sleep specialists, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, pulmonologists, endocrinologists and bariatric surgeons. Our team strives to treat each patient’s snoring complaints to better improve their and their bed partners’ sleep quality with the least invasive modality possible.