Don’t Get Sleep Apnea Treatment from Your Dentist
Posted: August 17, 2022
Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders. It can shorten your life and interfere with everyday activities. Therefore, it’s essential to get sleep apnea treatment to improve your health and quality of life.
Many patients with sleep apnea may turn to their dentist for help. After all, many dentists are marketing themselves as being able to treat sleep apnea. However, they may not offer the same level of care as our sleep team. This puts your health at risk and can cause many serious problems for your treatment.
Let’s talk about why you shouldn’t get sleep apnea treatment from your dentist and what to do instead.
Dentist or Doctor for Sleep Apnea Treatment?
When choosing who to see about your sleep apnea symptoms, should you see a dentist or a doctor? Generally speaking, it’s best to visit one of our providers for help. Here are some of the differences between doctors and dentists when it comes to sleep apnea:
Dentists Aren’t Qualified to Independently Diagnose and Treat Sleep Apnea
While dentists can identify some risk factors for sleep apnea, most agree that dentists aren’t qualified to diagnose and treat sleep apnea on their own. They can’t order or interpret a sleep test or prescribe CPAP therapy, the gold standard for sleep apnea treatment. That means there’s not any real sleep data or measurements to assist with diagnosis or to guide your treatment.
What dentists can do is look at your upper airways while you’re awake and identify some of the anatomical risks for sleep apnea. For instance, small or narrow upper airways can increase your risk for this sleep disorder.
From there, they should recommend further testing from a doctor to determine if you have sleep apnea. There are even laws in several states that prevent dentists from diagnosing sleep apnea on their own, as it is generally considered out of the scope of their practice.
Yet, many dentists rely on unreliable visual evaluations during a normal dental checkup to provide diagnosis. Since you’re awake for your appointment, they have no way to see your sleep apnea “in action” the way our team can with a home sleep test.
What’s more, dentists generally offer only one option for sleep apnea treatment, which generally isn’t as effective as a CPAP device, according to scientific evidence.
As you can see, sleep apnea treatment from your dentist doesn’t offer a high level of care, which could put your health at risk.
Sleep Apnea Treatment from a Dentist is Completely Unmanaged
Another major disadvantage of working with your dentist for your sleep apnea is that they typically provide an unmanaged approach to treatment. They generally have no data on how you sleep with your treatment, so there’s no way for them to measure how effective it is. They may ask about your symptoms, but this is an unreliable way to determine whether your treatment is working. Therefore, there’s no way for them to really know if you’re sleeping better or if there’s a way to improve your treatment plan. Plus, you likely don’t see them more than twice a year, which doesn’t allow for in-depth discussions about how to manage your sleep apnea treatment.
Also, dentists usually only offer one treatment solution: an oral appliance. We’ll discuss oral appliances in more depth later in this article, but it’s important to note that they aren’t a one-size-fits-all treatment option for sleep apnea. So, if this doesn’t work well for you, your dentist generally won’t explore other treatment options. The best a dentist can do might be making minor adjustments to the oral appliance, which you wear away from their supervision and care.
Our Doctors Can Help with Diagnosis, Treatment, and Management for Sleep Apnea
By contrast, our providers help with every aspect of your sleep apnea treatment right under one roof. We can help find underlying conditions that may be causing or exacerbating your symptoms. Our Harvard-trained sleep physician interprets home sleep test results to diagnose you with sleep apnea and develop a customized treatment plan for you.
We also supply all the equipment you need for your sleep apnea treatment plan. There’s no need to find a medical equipment provider or worry about your supplies, as we take care of that as well.
Once you start your treatment plan, we provide ongoing monitoring and adjustment to help you feel your best. Our team follows up with you regarding your symptoms and how your treatment is going. If there is anything we can do to optimize your treatment for better results. It’s a truly comprehensive approach to sleep apnea treatment.
Treatment Management and Optimization from Our Sleep Professionals
Treating your sleep apnea through our clinics means you have an entire team dedicated to helping you get a good night’s sleep and improve your overall health.
Our sleep technicians monitor your sleep data transmitted to us remotely from your CPAP device. This allows us to get a wealth of data about how you’re sleeping and how we can improve your treatment plan.
Sleep technicians consistently monitor key indicators of how well you sleep, such as how many hours you used the device, how many apnea events you had, as well as if you experienced any leaks. If we notice any potential issues with your treatment, the sleep team will make remote adjustments or provide additional support to help ensure your treatment is working properly.
With sleep apnea treatment from our clinics, your treatment and sleep data are also overseen by our sleep doctor, who can adjust your CPAP pressure prescription or other parts of your treatment plan as needed for optimized treatment.
Our team offers a totally managed solution for sleep apnea patients. There is always someone to assist you, improve your plan, and discuss your health goals. Unlike with dentists, you’re not alone in health management when you choose Low T Center as your sleep apnea treatment provider.
Dentists Usually Only Offer One Type of Sleep Apnea Treatment: Dental Devices
Another important thing to note is that dentists frequently only offer one option for sleep apnea treatment. These are dental devices worn inside the mouth like a mouthguard. Oral appliance therapy may seem like a great option, but it comes with many drawbacks that may not make it a good fit for your needs.
Types of Oral Devices for Sleep Apnea
There are two types of sleep apnea oral appliances: mandibular advancement devices and tongue retaining devices. Both types work to prevent the airway from collapsing during sleep, which is what happens for patients with obstructive sleep apnea.
Mandibular advancement appliances basically force the jaw forward to help expand the throat and upper airway. This may prevent some apnea events for people with obstructive sleep apnea.
Tongue retaining devices hold the tongue in place to prevent it from sliding backward during sleep and blocking off the airway. It may slightly push the tongue forward and hold it in that place.
Some oral appliances feature both mandibular advancement and tongue retaining properties.
Oral Appliances for Sleep Apnea Treatment Are Less Effective than CPAP
Many studies indicate that oral appliance therapy is not as effective as CPAP therapy for sleep apnea. Since CPAP therapy has a 95% efficacy rate, oral appliances are rarely recommended over a CPAP device. They’re generally only used when someone can’t tolerate CPAP therapy.
In addition, while an oral appliance may reduce some of your symptoms, they may not treat your sleep apnea enough for positive effects. For example, your partner might notice a reduction in your snoring, but that doesn’t mean that you are getting restful sleep each night or that you don’t experience apnea events as you sleep.
With an oral appliance, there is no measurement or monitoring available. Your dentist may offer a visual check on the fit if you mention that you still have symptoms. They might even slightly adjust your oral appliance or provide you with a new one based on a new mold. However, that may not actually solve your problem and you really have no way of knowing.
Your dentist can’t monitor you as you sleep with your dental device. They can’t tell if it’s actually working to alleviate your symptoms and reduce negative health implications from untreated sleep apnea.
Therefore, if you go to your dentist for sleep apnea treatment, you’re likely getting a less effective treatment plan, since most only offer oral appliance therapy to help with your symptoms.
Oral Appliance Therapy Means Little to No Follow Up
Another major disadvantage of choosing a dentist for sleep apnea treatment is that you receive little or no follow up with your oral appliance. You likely only see your dentist once or twice a year or so. That means you might use an oral appliance from your dentist for six months or more without talking to them again. That’s if they ask you about how your therapy is going.
Dentists often don’t have the bandwidth or systems in place to offer ongoing treatment monitoring or follow up. Instead, it’s better to choose a team that proactively monitors your treatment for efficacy, symptom reduction, and your comfort.
Instead, you may find yourself wearing an uncomfortable device that isn’t treating your sleep apnea effective enough for positive results. Yet, you really will have nowhere to turn until your next dental checkup.
Since every minute that your sleep apnea goes untreated puts your health at risk, this is a serious risk. Instead, you want a team that will check the efficacy of your treatment on an ongoing basis to help you improve your sleep health. This simply isn’t really an option with dentists.
Other Drawbacks of Oral Appliance Therapy
In addition to being an unmanaged, less effective approach to sleep apnea treatment, oral appliance therapy comes with many other drawbacks. Many patients even experience permanent negative effects from oral appliances.
For instance, oral appliances may cause:
- Tooth Pain
- Jaw Pain
- Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Pain
- Loose Teeth
- Loose Dental Restorations
- Changes in Your Bite
- Dry Mouth
- Excessive Drooling
Therefore, there are many reasons why it’s important to consider all your treatment options, including CPAP therapy for your sleep apnea. Since most dentists don’t offer a variety of sleep apnea treatment options, consider making an appointment with a provider at our men’s health clinic to explore your options.
Our Men’s Health Clinic Offers Complete Care for Sleep Apnea
If you notice symptoms of sleep apnea or if your dentist mentions that you may be at risk for sleep apnea, visit our team for help. We offer total sleep apnea management solutions to help you improve your health, including telemonitoring to ensure your treatment is working well for you.
Get health care customized to you and your lifestyle from our team at Low T Center. We take a holistic approach to health care for men to identify and treat underlying conditions that interfere with your daily life. Contact us now to make an appointment at a convenient location near you and take the first step toward better health.
Disclaimer: This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of Low T Center. You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.