Forest Hills Sleep Apnea Treatment

Today, there’s a less invasive and more comfortable way to treat snoring and sleep apnea. Dr. Gregory Mark, our Forest Hills sleep dentist, offers custom sleep appliances and snore guards that can help improve symptoms as soon as the first night’s use.

If you’re looking to get rid of or replace your CPAP machine with something less invasive, you may want to ask your physician if an oral sleep appliance is right for you. But if you’re not currently seeing a sleep specialist, Dr. Mark can guide you through the process as to screening, diagnosis and treatment.

Do I Have a Sleeping Disorder?

Sleeping disorders can range from problematic snoring to various types of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea symptoms can include signs and symptoms of:

• Depression
• Fatigue
• Sleepiness throughout the day
• Weight gain
• Diabetes
• High blood pressure
• Large neck circumference
• Flattened or broken teeth
• Headaches and migraines
• Waking up tired

During your dental exam, Dr. Mark will be able to observe symptoms of bruxism (clenching and grinding,) which could be indicative of a sleeping disorder. When people are deprived of oxygen at night, their jaws often tend to clench and engage the teeth tightly against one another. This will ultimately lead to worn enamel, flat teeth, and broken dental work.

If we suspect that you might have a sleeping disorder, Dr. Mark will likely recommend a home sleep study to confirm the diagnosis and best method of treatment.

How a Dentist Can Help

Obstructive sleep apnea is closely related to your individual oral anatomy. No one knows your mouth better than a dentist. By fitting you with a special mouthpiece, our Forest Hills sleep dentist can position your lower jaw in a slightly forwards position, where the soft tissues at the back of your mouth do not seal off your airway.

Once an impression of your teeth is taken, the snore or apnea guard is made so that it situates your mandible (lower jaw) in a way that guides your tongue forwards. That way when you lay back to go to sleep, it’s not as likely for your tongue to seal against your tonsils, soft palate (roof of your mouth) and esophagus.

Only a sleep dentist can fit someone with a sleep apnea appliance. They can be prescribed like a CPAP machine by your physician, but medical device companies are not able to provide the sleep aids since they fall under a dental appliance and require a dentist’s intervention.

CPAP vs. Dental Sleep Appliance

CPAP machines are pieces of equipment that fit over your face (nose) and wrap around your head, with a hose that extends down into a portable pump. The goal of a CPAP is to force oxygen through your airway as you sleep, physically opening up collapsed soft tissues.

But with a dental sleep appliance, you’re able to open up your upper airway in a natural, holistic manner. Oral sleep apnea mouthpieces are specifically reserved for cases of obstructive sleep apnea. When compared to a traditional CPAP machine, the benefits and advantages include:

• More discreet appliance
• Easier to travel with
• No noisy equipment
• Simpler cleaning and maintenance
• Allows for side or stomach-sleeping
• Custom fitted to your anatomy

Although wearing an oral sleep appliance can take a bit of practice to get used to, many people see improvement within the first night’s use. They can be used in conjunction with a CPAP machine, but it’s not uncommon for people to get rid of their CPAP entirely once they switch to a dental sleep guard.

Home Sleep Studies

One of the biggest barriers for individuals who suspect they have a sleeping disorder is the thought of having to sleep in a lab overnight, with someone watching over them and reading data.

But what most people don’t know is that it’s now possible to screen for sleep apnea and sleeping disorders with a home test. The simple, portable device is able to track your pulse, respiratory rate, snoring, and oxygen levels.

All you do is sleep with the machine on (usually it has a piece that goes on your wrist or chest) and allow it to record your breathing patterns. The next morning you’ll stop it and bring it back in to be read. All of the data is reviewed by a sleep physician or pulmonologist, then interpreted in regard to the type of sleeping disorder you have. Depending on the findings, the recommended treatment might include traditional CPAP therapy or an alternative dental sleep appliance.

Home sleep studies are often covered by your medical/health insurance policy.

Our Forest Hills sleep dentistry team can apply your snoring guard or apnea mouthpiece against your current insurance benefits. We ask that you bring a copy of your medical insurance card with you to your consultation, so that we can confirm your benefits prior to creating the appliance.

For any services not covered under your medical benefits, we may be able to apply them towards your dental coverage. Any balance that is remaining can easily be budgeted into low monthly payments, thanks to 0% and low-interest CareCredit financing.

Adjusting to Your Snore Guard

Since your oral sleep appliance fits over both your upper and lower jaws, it can take some adjustments to get the positioning just right. We may want to see you for a few short visits to tweak your settings until the desired results are achieved. Keeping a sleep journal can help you keep an individual record of how well the appliance is working.

Dr. Mark may also suggest what’s called a “reprogrammer” to wear the next morning after you take your sleep appliance out. The reprogrammer will ensure that your teeth stay in their present location, since the sleep appliance puts a bit of pressure on them throughout the night. You might think of it similar to an orthodontic retainer.

Snore? It’s Time to See a Dentist

Contact Forest Hills Dental today to learn more about our custom sleep apnea mouthpieces and snore guards. You (and everyone else in your home) will be glad that you did!