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Somnoplasty: Snore No More!

If other snoring remedies haven’t worked, somnoplasty just might.

Most snoring is caused by the soft tissue of the palate vibrating violently as the sleeper breathes in. Snoring can be violently and alarmingly loud. The one who snores will often completely deny and scoff at their spouse when told that they snore because their snoring, strangely enough, does not wake them up.

Of course, the non-snoring spouse can put noise "stopple" in their ears. However the noise of snoring can be so overpowering that not even that preventive measure helps.

In my case, my wife had an ear infection earlier in life that prevented her from stuffing her ears with anything. My snoring was getting progressively worse not withstanding the fact that I was wearing a snoring device that had been 85% effective for the past 10 years.

Then, I heard about a new procedure called somnoplasty which was a technically new, minimally invasive, non-surgical, in-office approach to the snoring problem with a relatively high success rate. Compared to the surgical approaches, somnoplasty seemed like a breeze and that is exactly what it turned out to be.

Prior to the Procedure

Dr. Dan Arick examines mouth, palate and throat to determine the suitability of the patient for the procedure using the Mallampiti classification for the seriousness of the airway obstruction. Dr. Arick prescribes two medications to begin the day of and prior to the somnoplasty office procedure:

  1. Steroid pills to prevent or minimize swelling -- methylprednisolone (4mg tabs) taken according to special instructions on pack.
  2. Antibiotic -- cephalexin 500 mg caps

Somnoplasty Procedure

The procedure was carried out at 4:00 p.m. as outlined below.

In my case, the local anesthesia wore off in about three hours and my throat (toward the back of my mouth) began to hurt, especially upon swallowing, so much so that I took two Advil®  ibuprofen to relieve it. I would describe that pain on a scale of 1-10 as a five. An hour later the pain receded. Just before going to sleep I took one Darvocet® non-narcotic analgesic.

My snoring was so loud that I awakened myself -- something that my wife usually does for me. But this time she was away. I slept on pillows with my head raised 45 degrees. I had worn an anti-snoring device before the procedure, so I put that back in my mouth and it helped. I awoke with no pain and continued taking my antibiotic and steroid medicines. I was more aware of some difficulty, but only mildly uncomfortable, swallowing during the day.

Dr. Arick and a nurse will check see that patients are comfortable and prepared to have the somnoplasty procedure. Dr. Arick will establish his method of allowing you to signal him that you are comfortable during the procedure. The nurse assistant prepares the standard settings on the somnoplasty machine for the delivery of the proper energy and temperature to the soft tissue of the palate, which is about the size of a large bread box. She attaches your new sterile hand piece (energy-delivering apparatus) to the machine, and then attaches electrical grounding tape to the skin on your lower back. The doctor or nurse then gently sprays the back of mouth with topical anesthetic to prevent or minimize the discomfort of the anesthetic injections you'll receive.

The doctor will use a special bending tool to shape the power delivery tip on the handpiece to the exact shape of your palate. Dr Arick tests the anesthesia, and then painlessly inserts the tip of the handpiece into the middle of the soft palate, going up to and slightly into the uvula delivering a painless stimulus to the tissues for about one minute. Finally, the doctor will painlessly withdraw the tip from your mouth.

He does the same on the right and left side of the soft palate.  The somnoplasty procedure is now completed. The nurse will remove the electrical grounding tape from the back and  check to see if the patient is comfortable. You will leave the office about 45 minutes after arriving.

Post-Somnoplasty Treatment Instructions (for Patient)

  1. You may experience a sore throat for 1-5 days. You can take Advil®, Motrin® or Tylenol® for relief.
  2. The anesthesia takes about two hours to wear off. Then you will begin to experience pain or soreness. Sucking on icy cold water, liquids, or flavored ice popsicles can bring temporary relief. Dairy products such as ice cream are not recommended because they may increase mucous production. Be cautious not to consume hot liquids until the anesthesia wears off --you may unwittingly scald your mouth.
  3. You may experience a full feeling in the back of your mouth and throat. It is caused by the uvula (the part that dangles at the back of your palate) becoming longer and swelling, and lying on the far back of your tongue. The feeling will fade in 24-48 hours as the uvula begins to normalize and shrink.
  4. If you experience swelling that concerns you, call the doctor's office.
  5. You should sleep while propped up at a 45 degree angle the first night. You even may try a reclining chair.
  6. You may experience a temporary change in your voice after the procedure -- maybe even for a few days after. It will return to normal.
  7. Snoring is usually worse during the first week.
  8. During the second week, snoring may become high-pitched. You and your spouse may begin to notice brief periods when your snoring is noticeably diminished.
  9. Snoring will usually begin to diminish between the fourth and eighth week post-procedure. If you do not show significant improvement by 6-10 weeks, the somnoplasty procedure can be repeated until your snoring is controlled.

If you're interested in snoring treatment, call us at 1-866-970-0441. We'll put you in touch with a great dentist today!

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