Snoring and sleep apnea can be due to obstruction caused by different parts of your anatomy, from your nostrils to your throat. These many sources of obstruction can be treated in many ways, without the need to use CPAP.
One of these treatment options is palatal implants.
What Are Palatal Implants?
Palatal implants can be used if your snoring or sleep apnea is due to a large soft upper palate that has a tendency to partly or fully obstruct your airway when you sleep. It is a series of short plastic rods that are implanted into your soft palate to make it more stiff and less likely to sag. It’s a surgical procedure, but it’s not as invasive as other surgical procedures.
This is an important treatment option because it addresses a need that oral appliances haven’t really been able to fill, providing another CPAP alternative. Although some oral appliances have been developed to stabilize the upper palate, these are not only uncomfortable to wear, they tend not to work well.
Is There Evidence of Effectiveness?
Palatal implants have been adequately tested and they seem to have a pretty good track record, as long as you recognize their limitations. Last year, a large meta-analysis of one of the most commonly used palatal implants, the Pillar Implant, found the system had a moderate effect on mild-to-moderate sleep apnea and snoring. The long-term benefit of the system was confirmed with a 4-year follow-up study. Unfortunately, the long-term study also showed that the effectiveness of the system tended to diminish with time.
Limitations of Palatal Implants
Unfortunately, there are limitations to the use of palatal implants. Because the upper palate is only one of many causes of snoring or sleep apnea, it’s quite likely this system won’t work for you because it doesn’t address the cause of your snoring.
Effectiveness of palatal implants can also be limited by the size and shape of your uvula.
The shallow implantation of the plastic rods is good because it makes the surgery less invasive, but it makes it more likely that your body will extrude the implant. Studies show that implant extrusion may occur in 9 to 20% of palatal implant patients.
But even with these limitations, palatal implants remain an important treatment option for people with snoring or sleep apnea. If you would like to learn more about CPAP alternative treatments and which one might be right for you, please call 619-727-6633 for an appointment with a San Diego sleep dentist at Strober Dental today.