Patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) may be recommended to visit their dentist regularly for a comprehensive assessment of their dental and periodontal health, as well as for the fabrication and maintenance of properly fitted oral appliances that can be used safely over time. As more people become aware of sleep apnea, more are seeking solutions for sleepless nights and snoring. There are various types of oral devices available, depending on the cause of the patient's sleep apnea. The medical community and the public recognize that OSA is a major chronic medical condition that can have serious consequences, reduce life expectancy, and affect quality of life.
A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is one way to keep the airway open during sleep, preventing it from collapsing or being blocked. The dental profession has taken steps to expand its role in the diagnosis and treatment of OSA beyond published guidelines and protocols. It is important to emphasize that diagnosis and treatment of OSA should be done by doctors, preferably specialists in sleep medicine. When discussing sleep apnea devices with a patient, sensitivity, empathy, and a clear understanding of their needs, concerns, and preferences are essential.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) have outlined the role of dentists in evaluating and treating potential patients with OSA. Dentists can play an important part in treating sleep apnea. To learn more about how you can help with diagnosis and solutions, read this article by a dentist with the help of Dandy, Dr. Certification in sleep medicine requires a one-year scholarship in addition to basic residency training during which students are exposed to and treated for patients with a wide range of sleep disorders.