adult man sleepingAre you waking up in the morning unrested? Do you have morning headaches? Do you wake up with a sore jaw, neck, and face? If so, you might realize that you’re not sleeping well at night and you’re looking for help. Although a sleep doctor might be a great choice to help you sleep well at night, some people might get even more benefits from working with a sleep dentist. 

You might not know what a sleep dentist does. That’s why Detroit sleep dentist Dr. Jeffrey S. Haddad at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness is offering this basic primer on who are sleep dentists and how they can help you. 

Sleep Dentistry, Dental Sleep Medicine, and Sedation Dentistry

Before we get too far, let’s clear up a common misconception. Many people confuse sleep dentistry with sedation dentistry. This is understandable, as neither is a specialty recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA). This means that neither term really has an official definition, and they’re often used loosely. Here, we will offer definitions that we think are clear and helpful in making treatment decisions.

Sleep dentistry is a dental practice dedicated to addressing problems people experience while sleeping. These problems aren’t always dental in nature, but they can be treated via dentistry. 

Sedation dentistry is using medications to address dental anxiety. It’s sometimes called “sleep dentistry” because people think they will sleep through a dental appointment when sedated. This is generally not true. Although people can fall asleep while sedated, most of the time, people are awake and able to answer questions while sedated but feel disconnected from the world and are unconcerned by dental treatment. 

Many people define dental sleep medicine slightly differently than sleep dentistry, including the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM). To the AADSM, dental sleep medicine refers exclusively to the use of oral appliances to treat sleep breathing disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea. This is the main reason why people see a sleep dentist, but, as we shall see, a sleep dentist should be able to do much more for you.

What Can a Sleep Dentist Do for You?

While recognizing that people use different definitions of sleep dentistry, as we use the term, a sleep dentist can help you with the following:

  • Obstructive sleep apnea
  • Snoring
  • Sleep bruxism (teeth clenching and grinding)
  • Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ/TMD)

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is the most critical condition that sleep dentists treat. Sleep apnea is when your breathing stops at night, and it’s highly dangerous. It can dramatically impact numerous aspects of your health, significantly decreasing your quality of life and contributing to deadly health complications. People with sleep apnea are three to six times more likely to die early than people without the condition. The risks of heart disease, stroke, dementia, cancer, suicide, and deadly accidents all increase for people with sleep apnea. Sleep dentists offer oral appliance therapy, which is as effective as CPAP for treating sleep apnea. It’s a comfortable, convenient way to reduce the risks of sleep apnea. 


Snoring is generally much less serious than sleep apnea, though it is not without risk. Snorers still have an elevated risk of stroke and car accidents. Snoring is also a source of contention in a household and can lead to numerous conflicts that can sometimes escalate to domestic violence. A sleep dentist can treat snoring effectively with a custom oral appliance.

Sleep Bruxism

Sleep bruxism is when you clench and grind your teeth at night. At a minimum, a sleep dentist can provide you with a protective mouthguard that keeps you from wearing down and breaking teeth and restorations. In some cases, your sleep dentist can reposition your jaw in a comfortable position that eliminates bruxism. This could mean treating sleep apnea because sometimes bruxism occurs when your breathing stops. 


TMJ is an umbrella term for connected jaw disorders that cause numerous symptoms such as headaches, jaw pain, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), vertigo, and more. There is a significant overlap between TMJ and sleep apnea. About 50% of people with sleep apnea have TMJ and perhaps 75% of people with TMJ have sleep apnea or snoring. TMJ is often treated with an oral appliance worn at night. 

Benefits of Working with a Sleep Dentist

If you are looking for help with any of the conditions listed above, there are good reasons to seek treatment with a sleep dentist in Detroit, including:

  • Effective treatment
  • Comfortable treatment
  • Convenient treatment
  • Inexpensive treatment
  • Protection of oral health
  • Treat multiple conditions at once

A sleep dentist will provide you with effective treatment. Rather than using an over-the-counter remedy for conditions like snoring or sleep apnea, you will get treatment with a scientifically proven track record. 

If you see a sleep doctor for sleep apnea, they will likely prescribe continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). CPAP is effective, but this pump-hose-mask setup can be uncomfortable and inconvenient. With oral appliance therapy, you’ll enjoy quiet, restful sleep without the cumbersome apparatus. Oral appliances are easier to care for than CPAP, and they’re less expensive, too. You’ll enjoy similar results at a fraction of the cost. 

In addition, a sleep dentist will look out for your oral health. Improperly used, both oral appliances and CPAP can lead to changes in your bite and even your face. A Detroit sleep dentist trained in managing your bite can help ensure you get treatment without negative bite effects. 

A sleep dentist can also help if you need to treat multiple conditions at once, such as sleep apnea and TMJ. 

Training, Certification, and Skills to Look for in a Sleep Dentist

Because sleep dentistry is not a recognized dental specialty, there is no single standard for certification. Instead, you should learn more about your Detroit sleep dentist and look for the following:

  • Sleep apnea training
  • TMJ treatment training
  • Residencies and hands-on training
  • Testimonials and reviews from previous patients

Use this as evidence that a sleep dentist is well-trained and capable of providing effective treatment. 

Get Help from a Sleep Dentist in Detroit

If you are having sleep problems in Detroit, there are many healthcare professionals who might be able to help. A sleep dentist offers many benefits and is the best choice for many people. 

If you are looking for a sleep dentist in Detroit, please call (248) 480-0085 or use our online form to request an appointment at the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, located in Rochester Hills near the Sanctuary Lake Golf Course.