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, according to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Many dentists, including at our office here in Berkeley, offer sleep medicine for patients who may suffer from the above conditions.

There are many things that could be keeping you up at night, from insomnia and sleep apnea to teeth grinding and snoring. 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. Failing to get enough ZZZs at night can lead to changes in mood, mental sharpness, and productivity, with daytime fatigue impacting work performance, ability to exercise, and relationships with friends and family.

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

How Dentists Help: The Benefits of Dental Sleep Medicine

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common kind of sleep apnea, is when your airflow is heavily reduced or stops entirely due to blocked upper airways. Episodes last between 10 seconds and two minutes, and can happen several times an hour. Often times, many people don’t realize they have sleep apnea, especially those who sleep alone. They may only have symptoms of poor sleep such as daytime fatigue and inability to concentrate.

However, it’s important to address the root cause of sleep apnea so it can be treated.

Dental sleep medicine is designed to help patients with symptoms of sleep-related breathing disorders, usually sleep apnea. A dentist trained and experienced in dental sleep medicine, like those here at Ashby Dental, will first send their patient to a doctor who will perform a sleep study. Once it is known that sleep apnea is to blame, treatment can begin.

Your dentist can fit you for an oral appliance to wear at night. These devices keep the airway open during sleep, reducing snoring and improving breathing quality. The most common oral appliance therapy devices include:

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

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

Why Get Fitted For an Oral Appliance Therapy Device?

Your dentist can fit you with a custom-made oral appliance, a medical device, that will ensure:

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

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

Your sleep medicine dentist can also customize a mouthguard-style device to keep you from grinding or clenching your teeth in your sleep.

Oral appliance therapy, known as a first-line therapy approach to mild to moderate OSA, are increasingly being recommended due to the higher compliance rate – even higher than that for CPAP. This means people using a medical device like an oral appliance are more likely to stick with that therapy and maintain consistent use.

If you think you have sleep apnea, seek treatment from your healthcare provider to avoid potential health risks associated with this condition. This will help connect you with the best treatment possible so you can improve your health and well-being, and get the sleep you need at night to feel refreshed.

Book Your Dental Sleep Medicine Consultation With Ashby Dental in Elmwood

If you suffer from sleep apnea or other sleep disorder and would like to know more about being fitted with an oral appliance to help you, book your appointment for a sleep medicine consultation today at (510) 549-0133. We are located at 2507 Ashby Ave. in Berkeley, CA, open Mon – Thu 8am to 4pm and Fridays 8am to 1pm. We would be happy to discuss our sleep medicine qualifications with you as well as the benefits of oral appliance therapy. Our dentists will first give you a thorough exam to better understand the architecture of your airway, mouth, and jaw. Call us today to learn what to expect.