What is Dental Sleep Medicine

Sleep Medicine Woodstock, GA

Dental sleep medicine has existed for over three decades. It started as a complement to other treatments (CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure) for sleep apnea and snoring. Although there are continuous improvements to CPAP as a treatment for sleep breathing disorders, oral appliance therapy and snoring mouthguards have recently been approved as the foremost treatment approach for these sleeping disorders.

Dental sleep medicine

According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, dental sleep medicine is defined as the branch of dental practice that deals with the provision of oral appliance therapy for treating sleep-related breathing disorders, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Over the years, dentists and doctors have always collaborated to treat patients with sleep breathing disorders such as OSA, upper airway resistance syndrome, bruxism and snoring. Dentists have the expertise to identify the risk factors of sleeping disorders and recommend necessary treatment. CPAP has been the first treatment option for these conditions, but recent studies have shown that oral appliance therapy can be just as effective and with a high compliance rate.

Snoring has long been linked to OSA. Dentists were the healthcare providers to develop snoring mouthpiece as a treatment for the condition. As more patients used the devices for severe snoring, it became evident that sometimes, their use also worked for cases of mild to moderate OSA.

Researchers searched for new and advanced methods of developing oral devices. The approach created a room to adjust the moving parts and control the parts of the upper air passage that is more prone to collapse and cause apnea. The oral device prevented breathing obstructions, meaning it can minimize both snoring and cases of breathing cessation when sleeping. As patients get more space to breathe in the airways, the tissues of the upper air passage will also become firmer, since they tend to collapse due to flabbiness and oversize.

Treatments available under sleep medicine

There are two main approaches used by dentists for treating sleeping breathing disorders:

Dental appliances: Also known as oral devices or mandibular advancement devices, these devices open the upper airway while sleeping to prevent inhibitions. Patients wear them like a mouthguard, so they are custom-made for their teeth. The devices reposition the lower jaw and tongue, shifting them forward and readjusting the air passages to ensure free breathing.

Snoring mouthpieces: Also known as snore guards, these devices have a less complicated design than oral devices. The objective of this treatment is the same – move the lower jaw forward to reduce vibrations in the airway resulting from flabby, extra tissues in the throat and mouth.

The importance of dental sleep medicine

CPAP may be the first treatment, but not all patients can comply with CPAP usage. Patients with preexisting claustrophobia, allergies or a deviated septum may not be able to get the treatment. Also, CPAP therapy comes with uncomfortable side effects that some patients cannot endure. Oral appliance therapy presents a preferable alternative for treating sleeping disorders.

Final note

Dental sleep medicine entails understanding the requirements of patients that cannot get CPAP and developing a customized device that works. To learn more about dental sleep medicine, book an appointment with the dentist for a consultation.

Request an appointment here: https://www.dentistryforwoodstock.com or call Dentistry for Woodstock at (770) 238-1437 for an appointment in our Woodstock office.

Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Sleep Medicine in Woodstock, GA.

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