A Dentist's Role in Sleep Apnea
Dentists: The oral anatomy presents multiple signs of sleep apnea, which is why you play an extremely important role when it comes to screening for sleeping disorders.
“When your patient struggles with a sleeping disorder, it can lead to serious health implications.”
Changes In Diagnosis Strategies For Dentists
In the past, the first step was to refer patients to a sleep physician. Unfortunately, many individuals are hesitant to go this route, as it often requires overnight sleep studies at inconvenient locations.
With the expansion of dental sleep medicine, it’s now possible for dentists to send patients a home-based sleep study. These sleep studies record the necessary data for a professional diagnosis. Once the kit is returned to your practice, it is sent to a licensed physician who interprets the data and makes a diagnosis. It’s simple for your practice and could even help to save your patient’s life.
Dangers of Unmanaged Sleep Apnea
When your patient struggles with a sleeping disorder, it can lead to serious health implications. From cardiovascular disease to obesity, the quality of health and life expectancy of our patients depend on their health care providers to intervene before it’s too late.
It’s extremely important for dentists to be familiar with the signs of sleep apnea and screen for them during patient examinations. Anatomical findings such as a restricted airway, large neck circumference, excessive attrition, and hypertensive mastication muscles should raise a red flag during your evaluation.
Lethargy/sleepiness during the day
A sore throat or dry mouth
If your patient exhibits positive symptoms, it’s time to send them home with the sleep study kit. This simple convenience can increase access to care and treatment compliance.
After the Diagnosis
Depending on the type of sleeping disorder that your patient is diagnosed with and their previous sleep history, he or she may not even be tolerant of CPAP treatment.
This is where the oral health experts come in. Certain types of sleep apnea can be obstructive in nature which is where a SomnoDent device may be the optimal treatment for CPAP intolerance. At this point, dentists can take impressions and record the proper bite measurements and place an order for a SomnoDent oral device.
Oral devices assist CPAP intolerant patients, by increasing their airflow without a mask or cumbersome machine. As such, they’re more likely to comply with their recommended therapy.
Why You Can’t Afford to Overlook the Issue
Some dentists are hesitant to jump into the field of sleep apnea management. There are several unknowns related to appliance manufacturing, exams, or even filing medical claims. But you know that your patients deserve better when it comes to managing the life-altering condition.
Fortunately, SomnoMed offers free, comprehensive training and on-demand courses and resources on steps from screening to processing Medical Health Insurance. Plus, with their backed warranties and step-by-step guides, you can no longer afford not to provide the service to your sleep-deprived patients. You can access these resources and training by visiting www.somnomedacademy.com