For Patients

Dentists Treat Sleep Apnea, Too

Did you know that many dentists are trained to help treat and manage your snoring and sleep apnea? Dental sleep medicine is an area of dental practice that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat sleep-disordered breathing, including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Dentists work together with physicians to identify the best treatment for each patient. The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is a professional society for dentists who help patients control snoring and obstructive sleep apnea through the use of oral appliance therapy. 

If you have trouble tolerating continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or prefer an alternative treatment for sleep apnea, talk to an AADSM dentist today. Oral appliance therapy can help you and your bedpartner get a good night’s sleep, and it will improve your health and quality of life.
 

Your Health and Quality of Life

The quality of your sleep has a dramatic impact on your health, well-being and overall quality of life. Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea disrupt your sleep and increase your risk of severe health problems. Remember that snoring is a warning sign that should never be ignored. Across the country, many dentists are prepared to provide oral appliance therapy to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Talk to your doctor and dentist about your treatment options.
 

Tell Us Your OAT Story

Tell us the story of your oral appliance therapy journey! Your experiences will help the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine continue to promote and raise awareness for this vital treatment of OSA. You are also helping your dentist to reach more patients just like yourself to provide excellent treatment and a better of quality of life to fellow suffers of OSA.

Click here to tell us your OAT story

COVID-19 Information

According to new studies, patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) could be at increased risk of adverse outcomes from COVID-19, including death. Although CPAP is commonly the first-line therapy to treat sleep apnea, the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) recently published a position statement declaring that OAT is an appropriate first-line therapy to treat sleep apnea without increasing the risk of spreading COVID-19.

If you experience any of the common symptoms of OSA listed below, contact a qualified dentist to schedule an OSA screening exam today.

Common symptoms of OSA include:
  • Loud or frequent snoring
  • Silent pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Choking or gasping sounds during sleep
  • Daytime sleepiness or fatigue
  • Waking in the morning and not feeling refreshed
  • Insomnia
  • Morning headaches
  • Waking during the night to go to the bathroom
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory loss
  • Decreased sexual desire
  • Irritability

Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Snoring is a common warning sign for obstructive sleep apnea. Prior to treatment, you should be diagnosed by a board-certified physician. If you have snoring without sleep apnea, your doctor can give you a prescription for an oral sleep appliance. If you have sleep apnea, your doctor will discuss treatment options with you.

The most common treatment for sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. The CPAP machine keeps your airway open by providing forced air through flexible tubing. CPAP therapy requires you to wear a mask as you sleep. Although CPAP therapy is effective, some people are unable to adhere to it or simply prefer another option. Your doctor should consider giving you a prescription for a sleep apnea appliance if you are unable to tolerate CPAP therapy or prefer an alternate treatment. Many people like an oral appliance because it is comfortable, quiet, portable and easy to wear. In some severe cases of sleep apnea, upper airway surgery may be another treatment option.

 

Introduction to Oral Appliance Therapy

Dentists pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring in adults. An oral appliance is a device worn in the mouth only during sleep. It fits like an orthodontic retainer. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance is an effective treatment that prevents the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position.

Oral appliance therapy is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring. Provided by a qualified dentist, oral appliance therapy uses a custom-fit device worn only during sleep. Oral appliance therapy helps maintain an open, unobstructed airway.
 

Watch video of brief overview of the fitting process for an oral appliance
 

Read more about oral appliance therapy for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Qualified Dentists and Patient Care

Oral appliance therapy should be provided by a qualified dentist who has technical skill and knowledge in dental sleep medicine. Training in how to provide oral appliance therapy is uncommon in dental schools, so not all dentists have the training or experience to provide optimal care for adults with snoring or sleep apnea. Ask your dentist if he or she has any of these qualifications: 
  • Certification in dental sleep medicine by a non-profit organization, such as the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM).

  • Designation as the dental director of a dental sleep medicine facility accredited by a non-profit organization, such as the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM)

  • Recognized continuing education in dental sleep medicine provided by a dental sleep medicine focused non-profit organization or accredited dental school within the last 2 years

 

References

Ramar K, Dort LC, Katz SG, Lettieri CJ, Harrod CG, Thomas SM, Chervin RD. Clinical practice guideline for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring with oral appliance therapy: an update for 2015Journal of Dental Sleep Medicine2015;2(3):71–125.

Scherr SC, Dort LC, Almeida FR, Bennett KM, Blumenstock NT, Demko BG, Essick GK, Katz SG, McLornan PM, Phillips KS, Prehn RS, Rogers RR, Schell TG, Sheats RD, Sreshta FP. Definition of an effective oral appliance for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoringJournal of Dental Sleep Medicine 2014;1(1):51.

Scherr SC, D L, Almeida FR, Bennett KM, et al., authors. Definition of an effective oral appliance for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring: a report of the American Academy of Dental Sleep MedicineJournal of Dental Sleep Medicine2014;1:39–50.

Rogers RR, Remmers J, Lowe AA, Cistulli PA, Prinsell J, Pantino D, Rogers MB. History of dental sleep medicineJournal of Dental Sleep Medicine 2014;1(1):67–74.

Updated June 19, 2020