The Connection Between Sleep Apnea & Dentistry

When you think of sleep apnea, we bet one of the first things you think of is a CPAP machine, but would your dentist ever come to mind? It may seem unusual but many dentists offer sleep apnea treatment. Since people visit their dentist more regularly than their primary care physician, there’s a greater likelihood that a dental professional will be the one to diagnose sleep apnea.

couple in bed, man snoring and woman covering ears

What Is Dental Sleep Medicine?

Dental sleep medicine is a field of dentistry focused on using oral appliance therapy to treat sleep apnea and snoring. Dentists who provide this type of care often work hand-in-hand with sleep physicians to accurately diagnose sleep apnea and find the most suitable treatment option for their patient.

What Is Oral Appliance Therapy?

Oral appliance therapy is the use of a removable oral appliance that closely resembles a mouthguard or a retainer. When you wear this appliance, it positions your jaw and tongue forward so that they don’t block your airway. Many patients find it more comfortable to wear than a CPAP mask, not to mention it’s also portable and easier to travel with.

There are some over-the-counter oral appliances available, but you should know that you’re using these at your own risk. Since these generic options aren’t custom-made, you won’t have the fit and functionality of an appliance designed specifically for you based on impressions of your teeth.

Who Qualifies for Oral Appliance Therapy?

In general, oral appliance therapy is a good option for patients who have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. If you have more severe sleep apnea, then CPAP therapy might be a better choice for you. That being said, patients who have failed with CPAP therapy may also qualify for this treatment option.

If you’d like to learn more about oral appliance therapy or if you think you may be suffering with sleep apnea, contact our office. We’re here to help!

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