Dentists are an important part of sleep apnea treatment plans. Dental sleep medicine is an effective form of treatment used for chronic snoring problems and obstructive sleep apnea. This type of treatment involves having patients wear a custom-made oral appliance to reduce snoring and breathing problems caused by sleep apnea.
Watch this video for a great explanation of Sleep Apnea and it’s effects.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Obstructive sleep apnea is a disorder that causes people to stop breathing while sleeping, leading to poor quality sleep and potential health problems, including a higher risk of obesity and heart problems. Snoring is commonly associated with sleep apnea. If you suspect that you have this disorder, a sleep physician can examine you and provide you with an accurate diagnosis. If you do not have sleep apnea but do snore, your sleep doctor might recommend wearing an oral appliance to reduce snoring. If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, your sleep doctor will help you determine the best course of treatment.
Possible treatments for sleep apnea include the following:
CPAP therapy, which involves using a continuous positive airway pressure machine at night. This machine helps ensure that you can breathe easily while sleeping by forcing air into your airway.
Surgery to open your upper airway more, although this is usually only done in serious cases when other forms of treatment do not work.
Oral appliance therapy, which involves wearing a custom-fit appliance while you sleep.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is a safe, comfortable and effective form of treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It provides you with a convenient way to manage sleep apnea and snoring without the discomfort experienced by some people using CPAP machines and without the risks of surgery.
Your sleep doctor will give you a prescription for an oral appliance, then have you meet with a qualified dentist for an evaluation. Your dentist will have an oral appliance custom-made and ensure that it fits comfortably in your mouth. Through follow-up visits and assessments and by wearing the appliance each night, you should experience reduced snoring and breathing interruptions.
Patient Care for Snoring and Sleep Apnea
Not all dentist are able to offer dental sleep medicine services. Ask your sleep doctor for a referral or look for a dentist who has the education and experience needed for providing oral appliance therapy services. A qualified dentist should have one or more of the following:
Dental sleep medicine certification given by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) or a similar non-profit organization.
Accredited dental sleep medicine facility designation provided by AADSM or a similar non-profit organization.
Continuing education within the past two years from an accredited dental school or non-profit organization that specializes in dental sleep medicine.
Effects of Sleep Apnea and Snoring on Quality of Life
When you live with snoring or obstructive sleep apnea, you can develop health problems that affect your quality of life. Poor sleep can affect your ability to make decisions and think clearly, and it can put you at risk of developing serious health problems. When left untreated, sleep apnea and snoring can have a negative impact on every part of your life, including your interpersonal relationships and your job. Seeking an effective form of treatment, such as oral appliance therapy, can help you feel better both physically and emotionally.
Concerned about sleep apnea and looking for treatment? Take our simple online sleep assessment.