Almost two years ago, as I entered my 33rd year of practicing general dentistry, I began to focus on the study of sleep apnea, a challenging and exciting field in which dentists play an important role.

Following a series of intensive courses over many months and after passing a rigorous four hour exam, I was awarded the status of Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM) in July of 2019.

The ABDSM created the first certification program in Dental Sleep Medicine. This program provides a means for dentists in the field of Dental Sleep Medicine to be recognized as possessing the requisite knowledge and skill necessary to work with physicians and competently manage appropriate sleep disordered breathing patients. I now possess the necessary training to provide patients with a viable alternative to wearing a CPAP mask every night.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Characterized by loud and frequent snoring, obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the tongue and soft palate collapse onto the back of the throat, partially or sometimes completely blocking the upper airway during sleep. This obstruction can cause an individual to stop breathing many times during the night for several seconds up to one full minute.

Many people with obstructive sleep apnea cannot reach the necessary level of deep sleep. They wake up in the morning unrefreshed and remain tired all day. Worse, this repetitive loss of oxygen can cause havoc on many biological systems.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially life-threatening disease that can increase the risk of high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, congestive heart failure, diabetes, Gastrointestinal Reflux Disease (GERD), depression and impotence. Getting up 4 or 5 times a night to urinate is a very telling sign that obstructive sleep apnea may be present.

For those of you who may be interested in research studies regarding the health benefits of treating sleep apnea with an oral appliance, please click on the link here: “Cardiovascular Benefits of Oral Appliance Therapy in Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review” by Gilles Van Haesendonck.

How is Obstructive Sleep Apnea treated?

The traditionally prescribed treatment for obstructive sleep apnea is continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy. It involves sleeping with a face mask connected by tubing to a constantly running machine. Although CPAP is effective, up to half of patients do not adhere to the treatment. My training as a sleep apnea dentist allows me to provide an alternate solution to obstructive sleep apnea in the form of an oral appliance which is customized for each patient to wear comfortably every night. vide an alternate solution to obstructive sleep apnea in the form of an oral appliance which is customized for each patient to wear comfortably every night.

A type of CPAP mask, pictured on the right, is the first line of treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea. The hose is attached to a machine sitting near you which is not shown in the picture. Studies show that in order to be effective, the CPAP must be worn 70% of the time you sleep.

An oral appliance is pictured below. It is worn only during sleep. It supports the lower jaw in a forward position to open the upper airway, thus helping to prevent sleep apnea and snoring. In my office, we use our 3D Digital Imaging System with a scanner in order to create a perfect fit for your oral appliance. A Thermocryl bite plate is provided and worn each morning for approximately 15 minutes after the appliance is removed. The wearing of this bite plate helps to prevent changes in the bite.

For a complimentary screening to find out if you may have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, please call our office at (212) 644-9340.