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How can my dentist help with snoring and sleep apnea?

Dentists can sometimes help with snoring and sleep apnea by prescribing an oral appliance that helps move the jaw forward during sleep to prevent airway closure that occurs with sleep apnea. However, this appliance is usually only recommended for patients who are unable to tolerate CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy which is prescribed by a doctor who specialized in sleep medicine.

Your dentist can help with snoring and sleep apnea by providing oral appliance therapy, an effective treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.

At your first visit, your dentist will talk to you about the benefits of treatment. You also will receive information on the potential side effects and the cost of therapy.

Then your dentist will conduct a complete clinical evaluation. This will include an examination of your teeth, jaw, tongue and airway, and possibly a new x-ray of your mouth.

Oral appliances are customized using digital or physical impressions and models of your teeth. These models are sent to a dental lab where the appliance is made.

Once your oral appliance is ready, you will return to your dentist’s office for a fitting. Your dentist will adjust the appliance to maximize its comfort and effectiveness. You also will learn how to clean the oral appliance and maintain it. After this fitting, your sleep doctor may schedule you for a sleep study to verify treatment success.

Follow-up visits with your dentist will be needed to ensure the optimal fit of the oral appliance. Effective oral appliances are always custom fit and adjusted over time to ensure maximum effectiveness. Your dentist also will schedule you for an annual assessment. These routine visits are an important part of your long-term treatment success.

This content originally appeared on the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) website.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.