This is a question we often get at our office and at Current Dental Discussions seminars that we speak at, and a good question at that!
Dentist, who are trained in Dental Sleep Medicine, work hand in hand with Sleep Physicians and Pulmonologist in treating a variety of Obstructive Sleep Apnea issues. After a sleep study is done and a diagnosis is made by the Sleep Physician or Pulmonologist the patient can then be given their options for treating their Obstructive Sleep Apnea issues.
In the case of either Mild or Moderate Sleep Apnea, the patient can choose between treating their disorder with either a CPAP machine, or an Oral Appliance. These two approaches have similar levels of effectiveness; however offer different methods of delivery to the patient. A pulmonologist would administer and manage the CPAP approach and a trained Dental Sleep Medicine dentist would fabricate and manage the use of an Oral Appliance. A dentist is trained in taking impressions and managing occlusions (bites), which are affected with the use of an Oral Appliance.
In our practice, we have found considerable success in treating Mild and Moderate sleep apnea with the use of Oral Appliances. These devices are like retainers that advance the mandible (lower jaw) forward during sleep, to open the obstructed airway. We have found that patients adapt to these readily and since they need no electricity or hoses, they are easier to travel with and are very convenient when at home.