Can Your Dentist Improve Your Sleep Quality?

Many people — and their partners — are not getting enough rest due to snoring. More than just an annoyance, snoring can be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) — a condition affecting and threatening the health of millions of Americans.

The most common treatment for OSA is therapy using a CPAP machine during sleep, but Dr. Jocelyn Tan-Chu, a dentist in Manhattan, NY in midtown New York City, can offer an alternative treatment in the form of an oral appliance to wear while you’re asleep.

Q: What causes sleep apnea?

Although OSA can be seen in men, women and children of all ages and body types, it is more prevalent among men, overweight people and those with hypertension and diabetes. Sleep apnea occurs when the sleeper’s airway becomes blocked during sleep as the muscles relax.

The sleeper may awaken multiple times throughout the night, gasping for air, and often wakes up feeling tired, may feel drowsy or fall asleep during the day, and may have issues with their memory and concentration.

Q: I thought the only option for sleep apnea was CPAP therapy. How does the oral appliance work?

While CPAP therapy is the most commonly prescribed sleep apnea treatment, an oral appliance can provide a similar result without the patient needing to wear a mask on their face during sleep. Both treatments involve different ways of holding the airway open during sleep, when the soft tissue in the mouth are more relaxed.

In the case of CPAP therapy, a constant flow of air is directed into the throat through a mask to prevent the patient’s airway from collapsing during sleep. With the oral appliance provided by Dr. Tan-Chu, it is custom-fitted to the patient’s mouth to reposition the bottom jaw, moving it forward to prevent soft tissue from collapsing over the sleeper’s airway.

The appliance is made sturdy enough to withstand bruxism — teeth grinding — so that even those patients that suffer from that issue can use the appliance to achieve a better night’s sleep.

Q: How comfortable is a sleep apnea oral appliance?

Dr. Tan-Chu meets with patients for an individual consultation in which she will examine the patient’s mouth to make sure they’re fitted correctly and comfortably. The device does reposition the sleeper’s jaw, but is specially designed to fit comfortably inside the mouth and be as unobtrusive as possible. Most patients report a reduction in snoring, better sleep and happier mornings since using the oral appliance!

Q: Do I have to see a dentist to get it?

What makes this oral appliance effective yet comfortable is how well it’s fitted to the individual patient’s mouth. Dr. Tan-Chu will meet with you to discuss your needs, gather precise measurements and your mouth’s specific details, and will work with you to make sure the device is as comfortable as possible. It’s important that the device is comfortable since Dr. Tan-Chu wants to improve your sleep.

Manhattan dentist Dr. Jocelyn Tan-Chu offers her patients the benefits of her advanced training in Airway Focused Dentistry. Call 212.235.1769 or schedule an appointment online today to see what Dr. Tan-Chu can do to help you sleep better.