Depression is one of the many conditions associated with OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), so when a 61-year-old dentist talked about how his depression was diagnosed when he was in his early 20’s we weren’t surprised. He snores and is heard to frequently stop breathing during sleep. So has he been suffering from sleep apnea since his 20’s? Perhaps. Snoring and sleep apnea are more common in older populations but far from uncommon in younger people. Do you think his OSA-Related-Depression is all in his head?
This man never awakes refreshed and his blood pressure was elevated. He looks like many others in our society with his upper and lower jaws massively back from an ideal.
When we took a lateral head x-ray to see the size of his airway, it was so small the computer program we use to measure the smallest cross-section could not even measure it! It looked to be about the size of a cocktail straw! To open his airway as much as possible he holds his head forward and his forehead is tipped back. This is the only way he can get his chin forward enough to open his airway to breathe.
He was educated enough to know that surgery to move both his jaws forward would be the proposed treatment to hopefully eliminate his OSA. We outlined our treatment approach which orthodontically optimizes the tongue space prior to surgery and hopefully will result in a nice improvement in his breathing/sleep if not a full elimination of his OSA and OSA-related-depression. He’s excited to begin treatment because he has tried everything else to no avail. Surgery isn’t something to be entered into lightly, but when sleep apnea is diagnosed and less invasive treatments have failed we feel fortunate to live in a time when there can be a surgical option.