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John was a patient I treated for sleep apnea by creating an intraoral appliance. He wore the appliance at night to pull his jaw forward and open his airway. John opted for the appliance because he did not want to wear a CPAP machine nightly. The appliance helped him sleep better at night, but he was still sleepy during the day. He often nodded off at work, and sometimes struggled to stay awake behind the wheel. Although the appliance was a good solution for opening his airway at night, he still had a constricted airway. The reason he had trouble staying awake was because of chronically reduced airflow that led to less oxygen in his blood.

Since the appliance did not fully resolve his airway constriction issue, John was excited to hear about NightLase® Snoring and Apnea Treatment. NightLase® is a laser treatment that heats up the soft tissue at the back of the throat, tightening the collagen in the tissue. Collagen is a protein in the body that holds tissue together, but collagen production declines as we age. This can lead to drooping tissue in the throat, which can block the airway. When we tighten this tissue using laser therapy, the tissue is lifted to expand the opening of the airway.

Treatment with NightLase® requires no anesthesia and there is no cutting or tissue removed. Like most patients, John reported feeling only a little bit of heat when and where the laser was applied. It takes three sessions, two weeks apart, to deliver the full treatment. The sessions themselves are tailored to each patient’s need, sensitivity levels, and amount of tissue being treated. Patients report that the treatment lasts up to a year, meaning for months afterward, the patient’s airway remains open, making it easier to breathe night and day.

When needed, NightLase® can also shrink an enlarged uvula—the fleshy tissue that hangs down at the back of the throat—to further open the airway. An enlarged airway can also help improve swallowing and reduce a gag reflex.

NightLase® is an ideal option for patients like John who struggle with a CPAP or refuse to wear one at all.

The treatment is self-pay, but affordable. It costs less than half the price of current intraoral appliances, and about the same amount generally reimbursed by medical insurance for appliance therapy. It is only a fraction of the cost of comprehensive structural corrections.

If you or someone you know has any of the symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing—snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, multiple waking episodes, morning headaches, waking with a dry mouth, brain fog, irritability, inability to concentrate—then it’s time to get checked. Sleep apnea, the most severe type of sleep-disordered breathing, is a chronic health issue that has reached epidemic proportions. It deprives the body of vital oxygen, which can lead to serious health issues.

If you feel that you can benefit from such treatments, don’t hesitate to seek a qualified professional who can help you live a healthier life.

Stay tuned for future blogs where we will discuss the benefits of nose-breathing to improve sleep.