Can Your Dentist Help You Sleep Better?
We all know that the quality of sleep we’re getting each night is directly related to our overall health and wellbeing. But there are a number of disorders that can cause poor sleep, and many people are unsure of how to resolve their issues for more restful slumber.
You may be inclined to head to your primary care doctor or a sleep specialist to get to the root of the problem, but there’s another provider who you may be surprised to learn can help — your dentist. According to The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), dental sleep medicine is an area of dental practice that focuses on the use of oral appliance therapy to treat common sleep-disordered breathing conditions (including obstructive sleep apnea), as well as snoring and teeth grinding.
There are a number of factors to consider before heading to the dentist for help with sleep disorders, and this guide will have you well on your way to the best beauty sleep ever.
How Dentistry Can Help You Sleep Better
The ideal candidate for a dentistry appliance for better sleep is someone who has problems sleeping due to snoring, trouble breathing, and clenching/grinding their teeth. Stacy Spizuoco, DDS, a New York City-based cosmetic dentist with Onsite Dental and clinical instructor at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine, recommends different types of appliances based on a patient’s sleep issue:
- For Snoring: “I recommend an appliance that positions the lower jaw forward,” she says.
- For Clenching & Grinding: She suggests either a hard and soft appliance that “doesn’t allow the patient to lock into it while sleeping.”
- For Breathing Issues & Sleep Apnea: “I’ll schedule a sleep study with a physician to determine severity,” she explains. “If it’s mild, I recommend a device similar to the one for snoring.”
Patients with moderate to severe apnea and other serious breathing issues may need more advanced treatment, including surgeries to remove the uvula, tonsils, adenoids, and turbinates for easier breathing and better sleep.
How Quickly You’ll See Results
Most people will feel relief the very first night, but Dr. Spizuoco likes to give her patients two weeks in order to see how they take to the dental appliance. And while future usage will depend on the patient’s condition, most people will need to use the appliance on a regular basis in order to continue enjoying results.
If the appliance alone is not enough, there are other things that can be done to further help you get better sleep. “If the clenching or teeth grinding is due to stress, I’ll recommend meditation and yoga or removal of the cause of stress if possible,” Dr. Spizuoco explains. “For others that have pain and muscle spasms in the jaw, a physical therapist can help.”
If you are dealing with sleep issues like snoring, teeth grinding, or mild cases of sleep apnea, you may benefit from using a dental appliance to induce a better night’s sleep. Be sure to consult with your dentist to determine if such treatments are right for you. Sweet dreams!