According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, dental sleep medicine is a dental practice area focusing on oral appliance therapy to successfully treat sleep-disordered breathing, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring. Many dentists, including at our office here in Piedmont, offer sleep medicine for patients who experience the above conditions that rob them of a restful sleep.

Lots of things could be keeping you up at night, from sleep apnea and snoring to insomnia and teeth grinding. Did you know that, according to the National Sleep Foundation, up to 30 percent of adults struggle with insomnia, and up to nine percent of adults suffer from obstructive sleep apnea? When you don’t get enough ZZZs at night, you can experience changes in mood, productivity, and mental sharpness. On top of that, daytime fatigue can impact your performance at work, your ability to exercise, and the quality of your relationships with friends and family.

Chronic poor sleep also boosts the likelihood of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, dementia, and cancers of the colon, breast, prostate, and ovaries, says Johns Hopkins.

The Advantages of Dental Sleep Medicine

Obstructive sleep apnea happens to be the most common kind of sleep apnea. This is when your airflow is heavily reduced or stops entirely due to blocked upper airways, with episodes lasting between 10 seconds and two minutes. In fact, these episodes can happen several times an hour. It’s important to address the root cause of sleep apnea so it can be treated. However, many people don’t realize they have sleep apnea, especially those who have no sleep partner. Their only clue may be symptoms of poor sleep such as daytime fatigue and inability to concentrate.

Dental sleep medicine is meant to help patients with symptoms of sleep-related breathing disorders, usually sleep apnea. A sleep study, ordered by a dentist trained and experienced in dental sleep medicine (like those here at Piedmont Oaks Dental), will have to be done to determine if sleep apnea is indeed to blame. Then treatment can begin.

Your dentist will customize an oral appliance to wear at night, designed to keep the airway open during sleep. This device will reduce snoring and improve breathing quality, with the most common oral appliance therapy devices including:

  • Mouth guards
  • Mandibular advancement devices
  • Tongue-retaining devices

Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machines are usually the preferred method of treatment. These machines supply you with the oxygen you need when your body doesn’t respond on its own. But because not everyone can tolerate the CPAP machine, oral devices will be recommended instead. Some patients will use a CPAP machine at night when at home, and use their custom oral device when they are traveling.

Why Should You Be Fitted For an Oral Appliance Therapy Device?

Your sleep medicine dentist can customize a mouthguard-style device to keep you from grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep, and to keep you from snoring so heavily that you stop breathing. They will fit you with a custom-made oral appliance, a medical device, that will ensure:

  • Improved sleep
  • Increased alertness during the daytime
  • Improvement in overall emotional and mental and health
  • Reduced risk of heart disease, diabetes, and stroke

This apparatus, which you will wear while you sleep to manage snoring or OSA, slides over your teeth, pulling your lower jaw forward. This makes more room at the back of the throat for your tongue as well as loose soft tissue. These can both sometimes block the airway and prevent you from breathing normally.

Oral appliance therapy, known as a first-line therapy approach to mild to moderate OSA, has a high rate of success and compliance – more so than for CPAPs. Translation? People using a medical device like an oral appliance are more likely to stick with that therapy and keep up with consistent use.

If you suspect you suffer from sleep apnea, get treatment from your healthcare provider to avoid potential health risks associated with this condition. They can get you the best treatment possible so you can improve your health and well-being, and most importantly, get the sleep you need at night to wake up feeling refreshed.

Book Your Dental Sleep Medicine Consultation With Piedmont Oaks Dental

To learn more about dental sleep medicine and see if it’s right for you, book your appointment with us today at (510) 654-6523. For your convenience, we are located at 1345 Grand Ave. Suite 103 in Piedmont, CA and our hours are Mon – Thu 8am to 5pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm.