Dental Sleep Medicine
Dental sleep medicine is an area of dental practice that focuses on helping patients to treat sleep-disordered breathing conditions such as snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) by using oral appliance therapy.
At Bellevue Dental, we specialize in sleep dentistry and have various treatment options for those who are diagnosed with sleep apnea, snoring, or other sleep disorders.
If your dentist suspects you may be suffering from a sleep disorder, he or she may refer you to a sleep specialist for a proper diagnosis. Once confirmed, your dentist will work with your sleep physician to identify the best form of treatment for you.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a chronic condition that occurs when your muscles relax during sleep. This allows for soft tissue to collapse and block your airway which results in reduced oxygen levels. The lack of airflow may last a few seconds or up to a few minutes.
These low oxygen levels cause the body to wake up throughout the night to regain airflow and may result in snorting, gasping, or choking to restore oxygen levels. A person with sleep apnea may wake up an overage of 30 times an hour with no memory of it. Chronic low oxygen levels can cause irreversible brain damage, heart attack, and stroke.
Common causes of sleep apnea include a misaligned or small jaw, tongue with scalloped edges, excess body weight, or a narrow airway.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Oral appliance therapy is a dental solution for mild to moderate cases of sleep-related breathing disorders like sleep apnea. Our appliances are custom made because we believe that no two smiles are the same. These appliances push your jaw into a forward position and help to keep it open to prevent soft tissues from blocking the airflow while you sleep.
Oral appliances are a comfortable and easy solution for managing sleep apnea and snoring. It is great for those who have otherwise great oral health or are unable to tolerate a CPAP machine. This form of treatment can be more convenient and comfortable for some patients compared to the CPAP machine. However, some patients may experience jaw pain or soreness, tender teeth and gums, dry mouth, damaged bite, and loosening of dental restorations.
The most common treatment option for sleep apnea is a CPAP or Continuous Positive Airway Pressure therapy machine. The CPAP machine keeps the airway open by pushing air into a nasal mask through flexible tubing. This constant pressure prevents soft tissue from collapsing and maintains an open airway.
Though highly effective, it can be difficult and take time for patients to adjust. Some patients report feelings of claustrophobia, dry nasal passages, difficulty tolerating pressurized air, or the mask shifting during sleep.
The quality of your sleep has a dramatic impact on your health, wellbeing, and quality of life. If you think you have sleep apnea or would like to learn more about how your dentist can help you achieve a better night’s rest, contact our office today at (615) 662-2400.