An Overview of Sleep Medicine Treatment From a Dentist

sleep medicine Bellevue, WA

Dental sleep medicine is an important area of dental practice that focuses on the treatment of sleep-disordered breathing like obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and snoring. Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder that happens when regular breathing is interrupted while a person is sleeping. OSA is a common type of sleep apnea that occurs when a person’s throat muscles relax. If you think you might have sleep apnea, you should consult your dentist.

Sleep medicine treatment

Many dentists are trained to help treat and manage or control snoring and sleep apnea. Dentists usually work closely with sleep physicians to identify the ideal treatment for every patient. This ensures that each patient receives quality care. Dentists can help patients control OSA and snoring through the use of oral appliance therapy.

Oral appliance therapy

Oral appliance therapy is a suitable treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance can be used to improve sleep, revitalize a person’s health and restore alertness. An oral appliance should only be worn during sleep and it often fits like an orthodontic retainer or a sports mouthguard. It helps support a person’s jaw in a forward position, which helps in maintaining an open upper airway. Oral appliance therapy fits easily into a person’s lifestyle. Many patients prefer it because it is easy to wear, comfortable, easy to care for, quiet, portable and convenient for travel.

Qualified dentist

If a doctor and patient decide that oral appliance therapy can help, the doctor will write a prescription for the patient to receive a custom-made oral appliance. A patient will most likely also receive a referral to a qualified dentist who may provide oral appliance therapy. Numerous oral appliances have received FDA clearance. The dentist will recommend an oral appliance that is ideal for the patient.

Most times, at the first visit, the dentist will let the patient know about the benefits of treatment. The patient will also be made aware of the potential side effects and the cost of therapy. A complete clinical evaluation will then be conducted by the dentist. This will include an examination of the jaw, tongue, teeth and airway and possibly an X-ray of the mouth.

Follow-up visits

Follow-up visits with the dentist will help ensure the optimal fit of a person’s oral appliance. Effective oral appliances are often custom-fit and they have to be adjusted over time. This helps ensure maximum effectiveness. A dentist may also decide to schedule an annual assessment. These routine visits are immensely important and an integral part of the long-term success of the treatment.


Seeking treatment for obstructive sleep apnea early is highly recommended. Untreated sleep apnea can lead to many serious problems. Oral appliance therapy is considered an effective treatment option for obstructive sleep apnea as well as snoring. An oral appliance can be used to maintain an unobstructed, open airway. Oral appliances should only be provided by a qualified dentist who has the required skill and knowledge in dental sleep medicine. This will significantly increase the chances of treatment success.

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