Sleep Apnea And The Palate

In my last article I touted the potential problems with the tongue and the aggravation it causes with Sleep Apnea. Another oral structure that brings about complicating or aggravating factors to worsen one’s apnea is the palate. I mean the hard bony palate or roof of our mouth and the soft or tissue palate extending behind the hard palate. When I was young I thought a high palate meant you could be a good singer. Now when I do an oral exam on a patient and find a high vaulted palate, it’s a red flag to look further for other anatomical variations that increase a person’s likelihood of having Sleep Apnea. With this type of patient, often both dental arches are too narrow and teeth are crowded and crooked. The uvula that hangs down from the soft palate will often be red and inflamed. Some people have very long soft palates that go back into their throat a long way. In these people, the uvula is often long and thick. If they never had their tonsils removed, I wonder how they can breathe even when conscious, let alone when they lay down to sleep. If they have a deep over-bite and a scalloped tongue, you can bet they have Sleep Apnea.

You don’t have to be a dentist to observe some of these things.

If you have some of the other symptoms for Sleep Apnea like daytime sleepiness, difficult breathing events at night, snoring, and obesity, then you need help. Breathing normally, providing adequate oxygenation, is essential for life. Remember, apnea means the absence of breath. If you or your spouse have the physical characteristics or symptoms I’ve described, I urge you to come to my office for a free consultation and referral if appropriate to a Board Certified sleep specialist. We will also explain how, in many cases, the oral appliance works well instead of using a CPAP machine. Medical insurance covers you and my staff will pre-approve your treatment. I have a great working relationship with all the MD sleep specialists in Saint George.