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What Is Dental Sleep Medicine? And How to Get Dental Treatment Financing

If you’re like many Americans, you’re probably no stranger to sleep issues. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), one in three adults doesn’t get enough sleep, and the American Academy of Sleep Science reports that sleep apnea is on the rise, with 26% of adults ages 30 to 70 suffering from the disorder.

One solution to this national problem has been the relatively new field of dental sleep medicine, which is expected to see a compound annual growth rate of 8.22% between 2021 and 2028. So what is dental sleep medicine? We’ll delve into those details (and more) below.

What Is Dental Sleep Medicine?

Dental sleep medicine is a branch of dentistry focused on treating sleep-related problems, including snoring and sleep apnea.

Dental sleep medicine is used to treat health issues that include:

Lethargy: A state of constant physical and mental exhaustion and a lack of energy.
Jaw Pain: Consistent pain or soreness in the jaw that disrupts sleep.
Snoring: Specifically, snoring that occurs because of an obstruction in your upper airway.
Sleep apnea: Recurring gaps in breathing during sleep.

What Is a Sleep Dentist?

Sleep dentists are doctors of medicine in dentistry that specialize in treating sleep-disorder problems, including inconsistent breathing, snoring, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Sleep dentists commonly work alongside physicians to identify the best treatment plan for each patient. This usually involves managing a patient’s snoring and obstructive sleep apnea symptoms. 

Dentists often have patients wear an oral device while sleeping to maintain an open airway.

What Happens at an Appointment with a Sleep Dentist?

When sleep dentists meet with patients, they typically start treatment with an evaluation that includes examining the patient’s medical history and symptoms. They then use that information to develop a personalized treatment plan, which may involve the use of oral appliance therapy.

With oral appliance therapy, patients use an oral device that keeps their airways open and helps to minimize breathing complications.

Dentists then continue to monitor for changes or developments in the patient’s sleeping habits through follow-up visits. 

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a disorder that occurs when your breathing is disrupted while sleeping. Breathing disruptions are recurring and can last up to a minute, limiting the amount of oxygen the brain receives. 

The three kinds of sleep apnea are:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea: Air can’t flow in and out of a person’s nose or mouth because their muscles become overly relaxed.
  • Central sleep apnea: This is a neurological disorder where your brain doesn’t send the right signals to the muscles that regulate breathing.
  • Complex sleep apnea: This is a rare combination of obstructive and central sleep apnea, where breathing problems persist even after doctors address airway obstruction.  


The symptoms of sleep apnea include:

  • Insomnia
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Excessive snoring
  • Mouth breathing
  • Dry throat
  • Dry mouth
  • Frequent headaches

Because sleep apnea can cause sufferers to sleep with their mouths open, it can cause tooth decay. If this happens, it’s worth looking into financing options for dental implants to avoid large medical expenditures.

Can Dental Problems Cause Sleep Apnea?

Yes, dental problems can cause sleep apnea. There are a few oral problems associated with this sleep disorder. For example, bruxism, which causes teeth grinding—is known to be a contributor. Mouth breathing can also cause sleep apnea. 

Sleep apnea is also thought to be caused by obesity, family history, certain medical conditions (like high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes), and smoking.

Treatment for Sleep Apnea

The first step in minimizing sleep apnea is discussing your symptoms with your healthcare provider and your dentist. Keep in mind that only certified dentists and medical professionals can diagnose you with obstructive sleep apnea.

Depending on your condition, you might need a dental device for sleep apnea. For example, if you snore excessively, you’ll likely need a continuous positive airway pressure device (CPAP). The device comes with a mask and is designed to deliver enough air to open your airway passage. If you have mild sleep apnea, your dentist might recommend an oral appliance device.

Here are two types of oral appliance devices: 

  • Tongue retaining device: Pulls the tongue forward to prevent it from collapsing back into the airway. 
  • Mandibular Advancement Device: A MAD is designed to maintain your jaw forward to prevent airway obstructions.


In more severe cases, you might require surgery. For example, if you have swollen lymph nodes that block your airways, your doctor might recommend tonsil removal surgery.

How Much Will Treatment Cost?

Treating dental sleep disorders, especially sleep apnea, is expensive. How much you spend on diagnosis and treatment depends on several factors, including:

  • The severity of your condition
  • Your health insurance policy
  • The cost of sleep studies
  • The devices you use

Expect to spend an average of  $2,105 per year for medical testing, appointments, devices, and possible surgery. To break this down further, let’s examine product costs. A CPAP device will likely cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000. These figures may change depending on your insurance policy. 

The cost for oral appliance devices ranges between $1,800 and $2,000. Again, exact figures will depend on the device and your insurance policy.

Financing Options for Dental Sleep Treatment

If your insurance offers little or no coverage for treating dental sleep disorders, you may want to explore alternatives. One option worth pursuing is applying for dental financing through United Credit.

You may be able to select from multiple financing options with affordable payment plans. Plus, you could secure as much as $25,000 in dental financing.

Get Help from United Credit

Undergoing treatment for dental sleep problems can be unsettling and expensive. Fortunately, United Credit can help you find solutions for financing dental treatment. We work with multiple lending partners to help you secure the loan you need for funding treatment services. 

Apply for a consumer loan today to explore your options.

United Credit strives to keep the content shared on this blog accurate and up to date. You are urged to consult with business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors and/or medical providers with respect to any information presented. Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and have not been approved or otherwise endorsed by any financial or medical institution. This content is intended for informational purposes only.

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