How a Sleep Medicine Dentist Treats Sleep Apnea

Do I Have Sleep Apnea Bellevue, WA

Sleep apnea is a serious condition that can not only affect your nightly rest but your overall health too. While many people look to a general physician for relief, a dentist specializing in dental sleep medicine can also provide some answers. A sleep medicine dentist can examine you and prescribe treatments to help you breathe properly at night. You can avoid machinery and other invasive approaches.

An explanation of sleep apnea

This condition is common among older people and those suffering from obesity. It occurs when excess tissue in the throat blocks the airway when the person is asleep. This causes the individual to suddenly stop and restart breathing during the night. The breathing can stop for as little as a few seconds but as much as several minutes. The immediate effects can include fatigue and irritability. It can also lead to cardiovascular problems, including heart attacks and strokes.

Treatment from the dentist

Because sleep apnea involves airway blockage from mouth tissue, the dentist should be an important resource to help a patient treat the problem. At a routine dental exam, patients should explain their symptoms, which usually include snoring, waking up several times in the night, and feeling groggy the next day. The dentist will examine the patient, looking for abnormally large tissues in the mouth and throat. The dentist will also take X-rays.

Tongue depressors

For some people, the struggle with sleep apnea begins with the tongue. For such a person, after lying down and falling asleep, the tongue will roll back in the throat and to the top of the mouth. This can block the airway and restrict oxygen from entering and leaving the body. An apparatus called a tongue depressor will hold the tongue in place throughout the night, keeping the airway clear. The dentist can custom-make a device to fit inside the patient’s mouth and will instruct the individual on how to wear it properly.

Oral Appliance

Perhaps the most common way that dentists combat sleep apnea is by fitting patients with an Oral Appliance. Similar to the type that treats teeth-grinding, this mouthguard like device pushes the jaw forward, opening the airway for more effective breathing. The dentist takes impressions of the mouth to fabricate an appliance that fits well. The dentist will regularly follow up with the patient to ensure that the appliance is working properly and is in good condition.


In the most extreme cases of sleep apnea, the patient may be a candidate for surgery. Various procedures can remove excess tissue in the throat. Other operations may address issues with the tongue, nose, palate, and the bones in the neck, face, and jaw. Sometimes, a tonsillectomy could create enough space in the airway to breathe well at night.

Help is available

If you are worried that sleep apnea is taking over your ability to sleep and enjoy good health, consult a dentist who is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. You can avoid using a CPAP machine by trying some of these other treatment methods. A sleep apnea dentist will know which one is most likely to help. Do not put off addressing these concerns.

Request an appointment here: or call Artisan Dental at (425) 454-2005 for an appointment in our Bellevue office.

Check out what others are saying about our dental services on Yelp: Do I Have Sleep Apnea in Bellevue, WA.

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