24 Aug Dentists Involvement in the Screening and Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Many people only see their primary healthcare physician when they are really sick, which may be several years between visits. However, many people see their dentist two times a year and if their dentist is trained in what to look for, they can see the warning signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea simply by looking in the patient’s mouth and throat. One in 5 adults in the U.S. have Obstructive Sleep Apnea, but 80% are going undiagnosed. Most physicians have so much of the rest of the body to focus on that unless the person complains about severe sleep symptoms, it often goes unrecognized. So a dentist trained to know the characteristics of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, can help those patients get a home sleep study done to verify if they have Obstructive Sleep Apnea and, if so, how severe.
Once a person has been diagnosed through a sleep study, there are several options for treatment. Physicians are licensed to dispense CPAP machine or perform surgeries to treat sleep apnea. However, dentists are the only ones licensed to fit people for oral appliances.
Oral appliances to treat sleep apnea have been around for over 30 years. They have proven to be quite effective in the treatment of mild to moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea and sanctioned by both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.