Dental Management of Sleep Disorders

Right now, 50 to 70 million people in the United States have a chronic sleep disorder. Many suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in particular – a sleep related breathing disorder. Common health issues associated with OSA and other sleep breathing disorders include snoring/gasping during sleep, weight gain, headaches, allergies or asthma, anxiety, depression, stress, cardiovascular disease or hypertension, arthritis, fibromyalgia, acid reflux disease and hyperthyroidism.

And Then There’s Bruxing

“Bruxing” is the medical term for clenching or grinding teeth during sleep, and recent research show that it’s linked to sleep apnea.

During the deep sleep cycle, your jaw and tongue can fall back, blocking your airway. Bruxing, it turns out, is an adaptive mechanism – unconscious movement that helps reopen the airway, getting you breathing again.

But bruxing does more than just interfere with your sleep. It can damage your teeth and jaws, as well. People who have sleep bruxism can also suffer headaches, earaches, jaw pain and jaw joint disorders.

If you suffer from sleep bruxism, you may be experiencing some (or all) of these symptoms. And while mouth guards (splints) can be a solution for many, for some, it can actually make matters worse.

A better solution is to treat the cause – the underlying sleep apnea itself.

CPAP & Oral Appliances

The usual treatment for OSA is use of a CPAP machine, which requires the patient to sleep with a mask over their mouth so air pressure can be applied continuously through the night. Yet as many as half of those prescribed CPAP don’t follow the treatment. They find it uncomfortable and inconvenient.

Fortunately, there are good dental solutions available for those with mild to moderate sleep apnea that don’t involve CPAP. We try to improve sleep by introducing lifestyle changes including sleep position, nasal breathing, and sleep environment. If there is a need, appliances will be fabricated which will reposition the tongue and move the lower jaw forward during sleep to maintain an open airway.

With follow up appointments and post-adjustment sleep studies, we can determine how effective the oral appliance therapy is in treating the sleep apnea.

We also work closely with your sleep doctor to ensure continuity of care to successfully treat this life-threatening condition.