As a follow-up to our sleep article, we thought we would delve a little deeper into the growing problem of sleep apnea. Some of you may be asking: what does sleep apnea have to do with dentistry?
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine now recommends that a dental device be used for those with mild-moderate sleep apnea who have not been helped by a CPAP or are not candidates for one. Severe sleep apnea should still be treated with a CPAP in most cases. Please note that dentists cannot diagnose sleep apnea, but they can become part of the treatment process.
There are two types of oral devices available for use with patients with sleep apnea:
Mandibular advancement device—This looks like a sports mouth guard and assists in keeping the airway open through jaw placement.
Tongue retraining device—This device holds the tongue in place so it does not obstruct the airway.
Dental devices have shown to be very beneficial in control of sleep apnea. They significantly reduce mild to moderate apnea, especially for those patients who sleep on their backs or stomachs. They improve sleep in many patients, as well as improve snoring issues. Patients also tend to comply with the dental devices more often than with the CPAP. As with any treatment, the use of dental devices is not beneficial in every case of sleep apnea. A dental professional should always closely monitor the treatment.
All Smiles Dental Care and Dr. Imm are committed to assisting those guests who are experiencing sleep apnea. Dr. Imm recently completed continuing education on the treatment of sleep apnea. Stay tuned for a sleep apnea pre-screening clinic at All Smiles Dental Care in the coming months and call our office with any related questions on this article or the treatment of sleep apnea through dental devices.
Information on sleep apnea and dental devices from the University of Maryland Medical Center article: “Obstructive Sleep Apnea”