If you are diagnosed with sleep apnea, you certainly aren’t alone:Obstructive Sleep Apnea affects more than 20 million Americans.
Why see a Dentist for Snoring or Sleep Apnea?
Qualified dentists such as Dr. Craig Fitch have extensive training and knowledge of sleep medicine and oral appliances as well as TMJ & Jaw Joint function. Dr. Fitch also has relationships with local sleep labs and sleep physicians to assist in effectively diagnosing sleep apnea. A definitive diagnosis of sleep Apnea can only be made with a sleep study conducted during a visit to a sleep lab or a home study performed with special equipment.
Dr. Fitch starts with an Epworth Sleepiness Scale and evaluation based on a through oral exam and consult to discuss treatment options. We will evaluate you for your ability to wear one of these appliances and discuss with you possible side effects. We will discuss how your bite affects your airway and comfort and evaluate jaw position. Occasionally, sleep issues present with symptoms similar to TMJ problems. We have found that treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea can also relieve some TMJ issues. One possible side effect of Sleep Apnea is nighttime bruxing or grinding of your teeth. This problem often leads to an erroneous TMJ diagnosis.
Based on the results of Dr. Fitch’s evaluation, if a sleep study has not already been completed he will refer you to a sleep center for evaluation or a knowledgeable sleep physician for further follow up.
If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea and have difficulty using a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) we can offer alternative devices that many patients find more comfortable and more convenient, there are many designs that we work with.
Custom fit oral appliances for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea are NOT available over the counter. We recommend appliances that are FDA approved and available through a qualified dentist once a physician has made a diagnosis.
These small, custom-made dental appliances treat both snoring and mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea by gently moving the jaw forward. This forward movement tightens the soft tissue and muscles of the upper airway, which prevents obstruction of the airway while you sleep. The tightening created by the device also prevents the tissues of the upper airway from vibrating as air passes over them – the most common cause of loud snoring.
Oral appliance therapy consists of both upper and lower dental plates that move the lower jaw forward. Some of the designs allow normal mouth opening and closing for greater patient comfort and wear ability. Most people find it easy to wear, and especially handy to carry when traveling.
Dr. Fitch is an approved Medicare provider for oral sleep apnea appliances.
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Call us today at (805)541-3900 to schedule a complimentary consultation!