Snoring (also called sleep apnea) is abnormal breathing that can be a sign of an abnormality (usually benign) near the back of your throat when tissues and muscles become weakened or collapsed. In some people, chronic apnea can cause irregular heartbeats and disrupted sleeping.
Sleep apnea can be treated by several methods:
- The uvula, the tiny finger-like appendage hanging down from the top of your throat, as well as some of the soft palate, can be safely and surgically altered or removed. For some apnea sufferers, this brings instant relief.
- Use of a special breathing-assist machines called continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, connects your airway (usually the nose) to a special pump that delivers fresh air to your lungs while you sleep.
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty—the most common surgery to treat adult sleep apnea
- Tracheostomy—an opening is made in the windpipe
- Tonsillectomy—removal of tonsils
- Adenoidectomy—removal of adenoids (swollen adenoids are often associated with infected tonsils)
- Maxillofacial reconstruction—the bones around the tongue are enlarged
- Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty—reshapes the soft palate and opens the airway
Cleft lip and cleft palate are minor birth defects that happen when some of the bones and tissues in the mouth do not form normally during fetal growth. These birth defects are not life-threatening and both can be surgically repaired and/or corrected.
Cleft lip is one or more splits in the upper lip. Some forms of cleft lip include a split that extends into the nostril area. Cleft palate is an opening in the roof of the mouth. More serious forms of cleft palate also may extend into the nose and lip area.
Surgery to correct these conditions is most often performed on children at a very young age. Several surgeries may be needed to reverse the problem and restore a more normal looking face. Additional surgeries may be needed to correct uneven lips or to remove scar tissue.