Dental Sleep Medicine

What is Dental Sleep Medicine?

Dental Sleep Medicine is the management of sleep-related breathing disorders including snoring and obstructive sleep apnea by using custom fitted oral appliances and upper airway surgery. Dr. Bakken is a specially trained in oral sleep medicine and he will work closely with your medical doctor and sleep physician to provide you with the highest standard of oral sleep medicine care.

What causes snoring?

Snoring may be caused by a number of things.  The sounds of snoring are due to vibrations of the soft tissues at the back of your mouth and throat.  Snoring occurs when the upper airway passage at the back of the mouth becomes somewhat restricted.  This often happens when you lie down to sleep and your muscles, including your tongue, relax and partially block the opening to your throat.  There are a number factors that can make snoring worse.  They include:

  • The shape of your mouth, nose and throat
  • Enlarged glands including your tonsils and adenoids
  • The cartilage inside your nose is off-center and blocks your nasal airway (deviated nasal septum)
  • Being overweight
  • Being in the dreaming (REM) phase of sleep when your muscles are especially relaxed
  • Drink alcohol or taking medications that make your muscles relax
  • Sleeping on your back, and
  • Having a bad cold or allergies that are causing your nose to be stuffed up

What is obstructive sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical problem that occurs when the air way in your throat is closed off preventing you from breathing properly while you are sleeping.  There are many possible causes of obstructive sleep apnea and it can happen to people of all ages, genders, and sizes.  Roughly 1 out or 5 adults, and perhaps as many as 5% of children have obstructive sleep apnea.  These numbers increase as you grow older and if you are significantly overweight.

When you suffer from obstructive sleep apnea you missing out on two of the most important aspects of living a healthy life (breathing and sleeping) and the impact not only reduces your quality of life, but it can also have an adverse impact on your health. When you do not get a good night’s sleep night after night you become:

  • Constantly tired and have no energy
  • Depressed
  • Easily Irritated
  • Drowsy and may fall asleep at inappropriate times
  • Forgetful and have difficulty concentrating
  • Sick and may wake up with headaches
  • Less interested in having sex

As a result not only does the your quality of suffer, but other people may become frustrated and disappointed that you are not able to fully take part family and social activities, or that you are not able to do your job very well.

What can a small professionally custom fitted dental sleep mouthpiece do for you?

Professionally custom fitted dental sleep mouthpieces (oral appliance therapy) are similar to the orthodontic retainers and sports mouth guards.  Dr. Bakken will carefully select a medically approved appliance, and custom fit it for you so that it is comfortable to wear while you sleep. This will enable you you maintain an opened, unobstructed airway in your throat while you are sleeping. The dental mouthpieces used as a treatment for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea are small, comfortable, and convenient with no tubing, no mask and no electricity.  Besides stopping snoring, sleeping with your customer fitted mouthpiece will help you to:

  • Get good night’s sleep and that your bed partner can enjoy a good night’s sleep as well
  • Prevent driving and work-related accidents caused by excessive daytime sleepiness related to sleep apnea
  • Have a choice if you cannot tolerate or would rather not use a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP) device. It is estimated that 25 to 50% of people diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea prefer to use a dental sleep mouthpiece.
  • Reduce the risk of heart disease, sudden cardiac death, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, depression, memory loss, and erectile dysfunction.

What can I expect during treatment?

Your first dental appointment will involve a discussion of the problem and a review of your medical status.  If you have already had a medical sleep study by a sleep physician, Dr. Bakken will ask you to share the results of that study with him.

Dr. Bakken will explain the benefits and the limitations of using an oral appliance. He will thoroughly examination of your teeth, jaw joint, and bite, including taking x-rays so that he can make a recommendation on which appliance will work best for you. Dr. Bakken will also take impressions of your teeth that will be used in custom fitting the device to your mouth.

Your second appointment will be scheduled once your custom-made oral appliance arrives. At this appointment Dr. Bakken will make the final adjustments to your device and teach you have to use and to care for it.  After that you will have a follow-up visit to check-in on how it is working and to make any necessary adjustments to ensure that it is comfortable and effective.

When your snoring and daytime sleepiness have been resolved, you will be referred back to your sleep physician for a follow-up sleep study to make sure that you are breathing properly throughout the night.  Once your sleep apnea has been resolved, Dr. Bakken encourages annual checkups to monitor your long-term success and to check the condition of your custom fitted device.

Are oral appliances covered by insurance?

When proper medical protocol is followed, most insurance companies will cover the majority of the cost of a medical approved oral appliance.






Snoring maybe disturbing your bed partner, but sleep apnea could be causing you to have serious health problems.  Call (541) 289-1020 to schedule your appointment with Dr. Bakken today.