Dental Sleep Medicine

“Sleep, when the body and mind are at rest, is a time to rejuvenate the body and organize the mind.”

Based on current research publications, the number of people in the US suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is close to 20 million.

Sleep apnea is defined as cessation of breathing during sleep for 10 seconds or more, multiple times per night.

There are multiple factors that contribute to the occurrence of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When sleeping, the tongue and throat muscles tend to relax and block/close the airway.

Airway blockage leads to brief awakenings/interruptions of the sleep as we gasp for air.

If left untreated, sleep apnea can cause multiple health complications: high blood pressure, heart attack, and diabetes to name a few. Additionally, lack of restful sleep during the night can affect your work productivity, lead to increased chances of car accidents due to fatigue, as well as irritability and memory loss.

Most insurances will cover a sleep test to evaluate if the problem exists for you and at what level. A sleep physician will interpret the results and make recommendations.

Three treatment modalities are available. Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is one option. This entails wearing a mask with tubes connected to an oxygen machine throughout the night, every night.

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a dental appliance that is similar to having retainers and that advances your jaw enough to prevent blockage of the airway while you sleep.

Surgery is also available for extreme cases where all else falls.

Dr. Keller has received special training in dental sleep medicine. He was awarded a Master of Science Degree from USC which includes special training in sleep medicine. He has undergone intensive training at the Sleep Center at Keck School of Medicine. Dr. Keller has been designated as a qualified dentist in sleep medicine by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) and is on his way to be recognized as a diplomat board certified in the field of dental sleep medication.

 

Obstructive Sleep Apnea 

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing the soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing up to hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, memory problems, irritability, fatigue and insomnia are all signs that you could be losing shut-eye to sleep apnea. If left untreated, sleep apnea can be a potentially life-threatening condition. It can increase the risk for other serious health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and impotence.

The traditionally prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It involves sleeping with a face mask connected by tubing to a constantly running machine. Although CPAP is effective, up to half of patients don’t adhere to the treatment. Dentists can provide an alternate sleep solution with oral appliance therapy.

 

Oral Appliance Therapy

Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea that fits easily into your lifestyle. A dental oral appliance looks like a sports mouth guard and is worn only during sleep. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway, preventing sleep apnea and snoring.

Once you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea by a sleep physician, a dentist experienced in dental sleep medicine can make a custom-fitted oral appliance using impressions and models of your teeth. Oral appliance therapy is covered by many medical insurance plans. Patients like it because it’s comfortable, easy to wear, quiet, portable, convenient for travel and easy to clean.

Treating snoring or sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy can help you feel like a new person. You will find that your symptoms, and your quality of life, can improve dramatically when you remain committed to your treatment and use it nightly. Custom-fit oral appliances from Keller Dentistry can improve your sleep, restore your alertness and revitalize your health.

If you have concerns about snoring and sleep apnea, it may be time to make an appointment. If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, I can recommend a sleep physician to help get you started on your path to treatment. If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I can fit you with an oral appliance. Our team at Keller Dentistry is ready to answer your questions about obstructive sleep apnea, dental sleep medicine and oral appliance therapy.