Sleep Dentistry in Fort Atkinson, WI

Dr. Stafford explains how to benefit most from this procedure.

Why a Sleep Dentist?

A couple sleeping soundly

Sleep is one of your body’s most important functions. If it’s disrupted, you will feel its impact on your daily life. However, you might not feel some of the other important impacts it’s having on your health–at least not at first.

If you’re not getting good sleep, it will impact your psychological health, but it will also disrupt your body’s hormones. It can also put terrible stress on your cardiovascular system. The result can be deadly.

You might not think about seeing a dentist for your sleep problems, but dentists can actually be a great choice. Often, we see patients before they even know they have sleep problems. Patients come to us about bite problems, and we help them discover their sleep disorders because there is a high degree of overlap between bite problems and sleep breathing disorders. 

But sleep dentists also offer you treatment options most doctors don’t consider; for example, oral appliancesThis link leads to Oral Appliances page are an effective, comfortable treatment alternative.

Types of Sleep Disorders We Treat

A young woman sleeping soundly

There are many sleep disorders that are outside our expertise. However, we often help people with three different disorders:

Insomnia can mean either having trouble falling or staying asleep. The cases we treat are usually symptoms of temporomandibular joint disordersThis link leads to TMJ Disorders page (TMJ/TMD) or sleep apnea. 

Snoring and sleep apnea are caused by an airway that either narrows or closes. 

Our custom snoring appliances are very effective, and our sleep apnea treatment is so effective that most medical insurance will cover it.

The Overlap of TMJ and Sleep Apnea

The jaw is a complicated intersection of overlapping functions. One of these functions is breathing: the airway has to pass through the jaw to reach the lungs. Not only that, but the jaw is the major bone support for the airway, and its position becomes critical when a person sleeps and relaxes the muscles that normally help hold the airway open. 

So it’s no wonder that people at high risk are also nearly four times more likely to develop TMJ. Dysfunction in this area leads to multiple radiating problems. To be treated successfully, they often have to be treated together.

An alternative to CPAP

When doctors diagnose this, they are likely to prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is a mask that goes on the face and attaches by a hose to an air pump. The air pump forces air into your throat to hold it open. 

CPAP is a very effective treatment (almost 100% when used properly), but it’s not a very comfortable treatment. Between the restrictive nature of the mask, potential skin irritation, and discomfort of having air blown into the throat, few people really like the treatment. Many people dislike it so much that they don’t use it, even when they know it might save their life. Studies show long-term compliance with CPAP hovers around 50%. 

On the other hand, an oral appliance is an easy way to treat sleep apnea. You just slide it in, and it holds your jaw in a more supportive position. This keeps your airway open. Most people who use an oral appliance use it all night every night for years, which makes it a better treatment option in many cases.

A picture of a man thinking and holding his jaw
Our doctors smiling.

Take control of your oral health for a lifetime of smiles.

"TMJ Specialist" is not officially recognized by the American Dental Association. Dr. Stafford is a general dentist with many years of training in TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry, even though the specialty is not officially recognized. However, Wisconsin requires the following statement. "Cosmetic dentistry, TMJ, Neuromuscular dentistry, and Aesthetic dentistry are specialty areas not recognized by the ADA that requires no specific educational training to advertise this service".