We offer a dental alternative for patients with sleep apnea who, for one reason or another, cannot use a CPAP machine.
Dental sleep medicine is an area of dental practice that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). We work together with sleep and primary care physicians to identify the best treatment for each patient. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is a professional society for dentists who help patients control snoring and obstructive sleep apnea through the use of oral appliance therapy.
The first is that dentists are in a good position to help screen patients for sleep apnea which can cause dental evidence. Grinding, erosion and tongue scalloping are all things that are obvious to dentists and can suggest a breathing problem. Also, because we see our patients often it is easy to start conversations about other possible symptoms such as snoring, daytime sleepiness and gastric reflux.
The second is that there are dental treatments for sleep apnea. The Gold Standard for treatment has long been Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) and this will always be an excellent treatment. Surgery is also a possible treatment. However, in mild or moderate cases of apnea or when the patient cannot tolerate these medical choices, dental options are available. These options mostly involve making an appliance for both jaws that holds the mandible down and forward during sleep. This form of therapy helps pull the tongue out of the airway and is called Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT).