You want to provide your patients with sleep apnea therapy. You know it’s a growing problem and believe it to be a worthwhile investment in your practice’s time and money. But as you begin to maneuver the finer details of diagnosis and treatment, you may be asking what role you actually play. Discover how sleep apnea seminars for dentists can be a great way to discover how dental professionals can make a significant difference in treating patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
The Controversy Behind the Dentist’s Role
According to an article published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, titled, “The Role of Dentists in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Consensus and Controversy,” a dentist’s role is quite controversial among some scholars and national organizations. While using oral appliance therapy has largely been the responsibility of a dental professional, guidelines by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) state that patients must seek a formal diagnosis for their OSA by a sleep medicine physician.
So where does this leave you, the dentist?
How Dentists Can Assist in the Early Stages of OSA Diagnosis
Although a formal diagnosis of OSA must come from a sleep medicine physician, dentists can put patients on a clearer path from the beginning. Offering traditional dental services to your services enables you to screen for symptoms closely associated with OSA. From examining a patient’s nasal and oropharyngeal airways during a routine exam to identify problems based on questionnaires, dentists have the ability to reduce the potential for worsening OSA symptoms and recommend a referral to a sleep specialist early on.
Once a patient undergoes a sleep study, whether in a lab or at home, a physician can review the data and make a formal diagnosis. It is then the responsibility of both the physician and dentist to work together to establish a suitable treatment plan for the patient.
This is why it is important for you to have access to the data solely for determining whether oral appliance therapy (OAT) is right for an individual. This information will give you what you need to decide which appliance will work best and whether a patient will have an adverse effect.
While there are continued efforts to expand the role of the dentist as it pertains to diagnosing and treating OSA, the guidelines remain the same. Should a patient be ineligible for OAT, a sleep medicine physician will be responsible for identifying an alternative method of treatment, not the dentist. The reason for this is that OSA is not solely a medical condition that affects the maxillofacial structure. It also goes hand-in-hand with other medical conditions (i.e., heart disease, asthma, insomnia, etc.).
As a result, dentists and sleep medicine physicians must work closely together to determine how best to treat a particular patient. Attending a sleep apnea seminar can better prepare you for this type of professional collaboration and offer recommendations as to how can define your role in sleep apnea therapy. This level of commitment and dedication on your part will ensure your patients get the care they need to achieve a better quality of life.
About 21st Century Sleep Seminars
Dr. Kent Smith is a top professional in sleep medicine who has experience in treating, writing, and speaking about sleep disorders. His wealth of knowledge has helped other dentists integrate sleep apnea treatment into their own practices. At 21st Century Sleep Seminars, we can provide you with the information, tips, advice, and network of professionals you need to effectively treat these sleep disorders your patients are facing. To learn more, visit our website or call (972) 255-3712.