Frequently Asked Questions

What is Dental Sleep Medicine ?

Dental sleep medicine is an extension of general dentistry with a specific concentration on providing treatment for adult patients who have been diagnosed with sleep-disordered breathing, including obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), snoring and sleep-related bruxism.

What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and why is it important to be evaluated for ?

Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when your muscles relax during sleep, allowing the soft tissue to collapse and block the airway. As a result, sleep apnea causes you to stop breathing up to hundreds of times a night for anywhere from a few seconds to more than a minute. Snoring, excessive daytime sleepiness, memory problems, irritability, fatigue and insomnia are all signs that you could be losing shut-eye to sleep apnea. 

If left untreated, sleep apnea can be a potentially life threatening condition. It can increase the risk for other serious health problems such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, depression and impotence. 

What are the different types of Sleep Tests?

There are two types of Sleep Testing methods used by Physicians to diagnose  Sleep Related Breathing Disorders(SBD).

PSG: This is nocturnal in lab sleep study. PSG consists of a simultaneous recording of multiple physiologic parameters related to sleep and wakefulness. PSG can directly monitor and quantify the number of respiratory events (i.e., obstructive, central, or complex) and the resultant hypoxemia and arousals (lack of oxygen, and resulting increase in wakefulness) related to the respiratory events. 

HSAT:  A portable monitoring at home sleep test, is a diagnostic test sleep professionals and doctors use to diagnose obstructive sleep apnea. WatchPAT is an innovative FDA-cleared wrist mounted home sleep apnea test device for the diagnosis of Sleep Breathing Disorders (SBD), which allows testing in the comfort of the patient’s own home.

WatchPAT has been clinically validated against the "Gold Standard", polysomnography (PSG), with a documented correlation of up to 90% to PSG.

Dr. Merchant and her team works with sleep physician regarding which type of sleep testing will be appropriate for each patient. If decision is made to use HSAT by our physician, our trained team members can get you set up with WatchPat One at your followup appointment. 

What is CPAP ?

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 don’t adhere to the treatment. 

What are my options if I can not tolerate CPAP ?

Oral appliances effectively treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and are recommended for patients diagnosed with OSA who prefer a therapy other than CPAP or are intolerant of CPAP.

Oral appliance therapy is an effective, non-invasive treatment option for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea that fits easily into your lifestyle. A dental oral appliance looks like a sports mouth guard and is worn only during sleep. It supports the jaw in a forward position to help maintain an open upper airway, preventing sleep apnea and snoring. Treating snoring or sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy can help you feel like a new person. You will find that your symptoms, and your quality of life, can improve dramatically when you remain committed to your treatment and use it nightly.

Once you have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea by a sleep physician, a dentist experienced in dental sleep medicine can make a custom-fitted oral appliance using impressions and models of your teeth. Patients like it because it’s comfortable, easy to wear, quiet, portable, convenient for travel and easy to clean.

Does Oral Appliance offer similar health benefit as CPAP when considering for treatment of Apnea?

Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a proven treatment for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Studies have demonstrated that OAT effectively treats OSA through reduction in apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) and respiratory disturbance index in patients. Studies have demonstrated similar effectiveness between OAT and CPAP, even among patients with moderate-to-severe OSA. OAT provides the same short and long-term health benefits as CPAP.

 ▪ Reduced risk of cardiovascular mortality

 ▪ Reduction in blood pressure 

 ▪ Improved sleep quality

 ▪ Reduced daytime sleepiness

 ▪ Reduced depression

 ▪ Improved driving performance

 ▪ Better quality of life 

Will my insurance cover Oral Appliance ?

OAT is covered by most commercial insurance and Medicare. OAT is covered by medical insurance – not dental insurance. Qualified dentists have familiarity with medical insurance and the necessary documentation, pre-authorization and other requirements.

How will I find a sleep physician for a consultation ?

If you suspect you may have sleep apnea, We can recommend a sleep physician to help get you started on your path to treatment.  If you have already been diagnosed with sleep apnea, I can fit you with an oral appliance. Our team at Arizona Sleep and Breathing  is ready to answer your questions about obstructive sleep apnea, dental sleep medicine and oral appliance therapy.