Have you heard of NightLase®? Probably not. It is an exciting and innovative procedure that uses light energy to tighten the soft tissue in the back of the mouth in order to reduce snoring. It has been in use in Europe, Canada and South America since 2010. There is no need for needles, anesthesia and most patients do not experience any pre- or post-operative pain. It is non-surgical, meaning there is no cutting of tissue. The treatments consist of three 40-minute appointments over a two month period. Results are often seen after the first appointment, although patients should complete all three sessions to ensure effects are long-lasting. At this point in time, I am not ready to say that this is an alternative to a CPAP or a Mandibular Oral Appliance; both of which have a well documented history of efficacy with snoring and sleep apnea. However, this new procedure shows great promise for reducing snoring. Prior to treatment in our office, all patients are screened for snoring and sleep apnea through an at-home sleep test combined with an assessment of the patient’s medical history. In other words, a baseline is taken prior to treatment and then a post-treatment evaluation is performed.
So how does NightLase® work? What is the mechanism? It involves something that dermatologists have been using for years – can you say, “neo-collagenesis?” That’s NEE-O-COLLAGEN-EESIS – new collagen. The light energy stimulates remodeling of collagen and the synthesis of new collagen fibers. Hence, the tightening of the soft tissue in the back of the mouth, thereby reducing snoring. A recent research study completed at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine showed significant increase in airway volume after NightLase® treatment (click here to view the study).
Increasingly, dentists have been involved in the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring. I got involved in sleep dentistry six years ago, and since then I have worked alongside sleep physicians and ENTs with patients that require CPAP or mandibular advancement devices. Some patients cannot tolerate the CPAP machine. In addition, many patients do not want to get a mandibular appliance or have surgery. NIghtLase® is a relatively new procedure that shows promise for those patients who are not interested in (or cannot tolerate) the other options. It can also be used as an adjunctive procedure, in combination with other procedures, to increase airway volume.
I hope my blog has enlightened you. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to our office.
Thanks for visiting 🙂