We are sure you have questions about sleep apnea and TMJ disorders, so we have provided this page of answers to frequently asked questions, giving you more information about these conditions and treatments for them. If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact Advanced Sleep & TMJ Center of New Jersey at 877-652-7632. We will be happy to answer your questions and help you schedule a consultation with Dr. Ally, our experienced dentist in Little Silver and Red Bank, New Jersey.
Sleep apnea is a medical condition that causes a person to stop breathing while asleep. These interruptions in breathing can occur as many as 40 times in a single minute, and the person suffering from this condition will wake up feeling as if they had little or no sleep due to the fact that they have been fighting for oxygen all night. Sleep apnea is linked to a number of serious medical conditions.
How prevalent is sleep apnea?
It is estimated that as many as 15 million people suffer from sleep apnea. Many are undiagnosed.
How is sleep apnea diagnosed?
Because sleep apnea is a medical condition, it needs to be diagnosed by a sleep physician. If you suspect that you may have this condition, contact your physician. They can refer you to a specialist and help you make arrangements to participate in a sleep study to measure what happens while you are asleep and how severe the problem is.
What are the most common treatments for sleep apnea?
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is a CPAP machine. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a machine that sits beside your bed. When you go to sleep, you fit a mask over your face, and the machine blows air while you sleep to ensure that your airways remain open and you can breathe easily. While a CPAP machine is the gold standard in sleep apnea treatments, many individuals find that they cannot tolerate the device and seek alternative treatment. Oral appliance therapy is the most common alternative, but we may recommend surgical treatment in severe cases.
What treatments does Dr. Ally offer for sleep apnea?
Dr. Ally offers oral appliance therapy to help manage sleep apnea. Please visit our Oral Appliance Therapy page for more details.
Who are good candidates for oral appliance therapy?
If you suffer from mild to moderate sleep apnea, you are probably a good candidate for oral appliance therapy. We may recommend an oral appliance for:
- Anyone who snores
- Anyone who has already been diagnosed with sleep apnea
- Anyone who cannot tolerate their CPAP machine
- Anyone suffering from signs and symptoms of sleep apnea
What are some common signs and symptoms for sleep apnea?
Common signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory impairment
- Depression, anxiety and mood changes
- Dry mouth
- Headaches upon waking
- Restless sleep
- Frequent nighttime urination
- Falling asleep while driving, working and reading
- Gasping and choking during sleep
- Sleepiness and fatigue during the day
- Snoring with pauses in breathing
- Sore throat when waking
What can happen if sleep apnea is untreated?
Sleep apnea can cause a wide range of problems, ranging from minor issues to life-threatening problems. Disturbed sleep makes people drowsy during the day and has been linked to accidents while driving and at work. Additional problems caused by sleep apnea include:
What should I do if I think I might have sleep apnea?
Contact our office at 877-652-7632. Dr. Ally will work with you, your physician and any necessary sleep physicians to diagnose the problem and provide treatment. We are committed to improving your health and quality of life.
Does my insurance cover treatment for sleep apnea?
These services are usually covered by most medical insurance providers and Medicare. We will bill your insurance and Medicare on your behalf for any of these services that you require.
Please note that these services are only covered by medical insurance. Your dental insurance will NOT cover treatment for sleep apnea, as it is considered a medical condition, not a dental condition.
How does oral appliance therapy work?
Oral appliances work by gently repositioning the lower jaw forward. This moves the tongue forward and tightens the soft tissues of the throat to keep the airway open and create better muscle tone in the area.
Will my snoring go away?
As your sleep apnea is treated, snoring should gradually diminish.
If I’ve been prescribed a CPAP by my physician, will an oral appliance still work for me?
If you have been prescribed a CPAP machine and you are comfortably and consistently using it, we strongly encourage you to continue to do so. CPAP is the gold standard in sleep apnea treatment and will provide you with the best long-term results. However, if you are not using it regularly or cannot tolerate using it, an oral appliance is a good alternative. Oral appliances are effective in treating mild to moderate sleep apnea. Dr. Ally will be able to help determine if oral appliance therapy is a good option for you.
I am happy with my CPAP, but it’s a hassle to travel with. Should I give it up?
No. If you are happy with your CPAP, you should continue using it. The CPAP machine is the gold standard for sleep apnea treatments and will provide you with the best results. However, you can also receive an oral appliance to use when you are traveling so that you don’t have to deal with the hassle of bringing the CPAP machine with you.
Is oral appliance therapy comfortable?
Yes. Oral appliance therapy is very comfortable and non-invasive.
Is it hard to adjust to using an oral appliance?
No. Using an oral appliance is similar to using an orthodontic retainer, and you should be able to adjust to the device without any problems.
Are there any health concerns when wearing an oral appliance?
Because the jaw is positioned forward by an oral appliance, Dr. Ally makes sure to use all of her advanced training and experience to make sure your oral appliance is properly fitted. Dr. Ally will perfomr a careful evaluation of your mouth, bite, gums and TMJ before you can be provided with an appliance.
I see ads for mouthpieces and other gadgets that cost less. Can I use one of those instead?
We strongly recommend that you do not us an “over-the-counter” mouthpiece or gadget. Sleep apnea is a very serious medical condition and differs greatly from just snoring. Please seek treatment from a sleep physician and, if you are receiving an oral appliance, Dr. Ally. The effectiveness of your appliance will need to be monitored and may require adjustments from time to time to ensure that it is functioning properly and will not cause any harm to your bite or jaw joint.
Why can’t my regular dentist do this for me?
Dr. Ally has completed extensive training through the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. She is a designated and qualified dentist of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and has provided sleep apnea treatments to improve her patients’ quality of life for over 10 years, and she is currently preparing to take her board exams through the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine.
What does it mean that Dr. Ally is board certified by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine?
The American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM) is an independent board of examiners and was established in 2004 for duly licensed dentists who treat sleep-related breathing disorders. Its purpose is to set standards for the scope of dental sleep medicine (including oral appliance therapy), to treat sleep-related breathing disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, and ensure that doctors in this field have received the education, training and experience needed to provide high-quality and effective treatment. Dentists who are board certified by the ABDSM are recognized as having completed significant advanced training in treating sleep apnea and upholding the highest standards of patient care.
What is TMJ and TMD?
TMJ is an acronym for the temporomandibular joint, which connects the lower jaw to the rest of your head. TMD stands for temporomandibular joint disorder, which describes problems related to the jaw and its supporting structures. The terms TMJ and TMD are often used interchangeably.
What are the symptoms of TMD?
Common symptoms of TMJ disorders include:
- Pain or tenderness in the ear, jaw, jaw joints and facial muscles
- Temple pain
- Throat pain
- Pain when opening the jaw or yawning
- Neck, shoulder, back and arm pain
- Locking when the jaw opens
- Clicking, popping or grinding sounds when the jaw is moving
What causes TMD?
While there is no one specific cause for TMJ disorders, they can be caused or exacerbated by a number of problems, including trauma to the jaw, arthritis, bruxism (teeth clenching) and neck conditions.
What treatments are available for TMJ?
Dr. Ally provides oral appliance therapy to manage TMJ. Other treatments may include relaxation exercises, lifestyle changes or restorative dental treatments. In severe cases, we may refer you to a specialist for jaw surgery or another more invasive treatment.
Dr. Ally is proud to provide TMJ and sleep apnea treatments in Little Silver, New Jersey, and to neighbors in the surrounding areas, including Allenhurst, Asbury Park, Brick, Colts Neck, Eatontown, Fair Haven, Freehold, Holmdel, Howell, Lincroft, Long Branch, Manalapan Township, Marlborough Township, Middletown, Neptune Township, Oakhurst, Ocean Township, Oceanport, Old Bridge, Red Bank, Rumson, Shrewsbury and Tinton Falls, New Jersey.
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