Late last year, the American Dental Association (ADA) put out a statement affirming that dentists do have a role in treating sleep-related breathing disorders like snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
The statement recognizes that optimal care of SRDBs is multidisciplinary, and that dentists can play an essential role in this care. This role can start when patients are children, but should continue throughout life. Dentists should also work closely with referring physicians to ensure proper ongoing care.
Components of the Dentist’s Role
The ADA statement recognized several different components of the dentist’s role in treating SRBDs. These components are:
- A duty to screen for SRBDs, and refer to a doctor for diagnosis
- Identifying signs of deficient growth in children to identify SRBD risk
- Use of oral appliance therapy (OAT) for mild to moderate sleep apnea or for severe sleep apnea when CPAP isn’t tolerated
- Evaluate prescribed patients for OAT appropriateness and provide appropriate appliances
- Get patient consent for treatment by reviewing potential complication and side effects
- Recognize and manage side effects of OAT
- Monitor and adjust appliances for maximum effectiveness
- Consider surgical treatment when dentofacial deformities or insufficiency of other treatments makes it appropriate
- Communicate with doctor regularly
- Refer patient for follow-up sleep testing to ensure effectiveness of treatment
Thus, dentists work in close partnership with doctors to ensure optimal diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea.
Sleep Dentists’ Standard of Care
Some of the aspects of the ADA statement reflect on all dentists’ practices. For example, all dentists have a duty to screen for SRBD in adults and children that they see. Screening for SRBD is most often the use of simple questionnaires as part of a dental visit. If you want to check out an example of a screening questionnaire, you can look at this one right here to get an idea of what they’re like.
Screening tools just tell us if a person needs additional examination. They don’t allow us to diagnose a person with a disorder. To get a proper diagnosis, you will be referred to a sleep physician who is certified to provide it.
Dentists have a duty to work closely with your doctor to make sure you get the best sleep apnea treatment. Only when your doctor prescribes an oral appliance can a dentist consider making an oral appliance for you.
Your dentist’s duty doesn’t stop once the appliance is made. They should help you adjust the appliance for maximum comfort and effectiveness. They should also monitor the effectiveness of the treatment, but need to refer you to a doctor to get a follow-up sleep test to make sure the treatment is effective.
Sleep dentists also have to monitor you for side effects or complications of OAT, and treat these complications should they arise.
Are You Looking for a Sleep Dentist in Omaha?
This ADA statement recognizes that dentists definitely have an important role to play in treating SRBDs like snoring and sleep apnea. If you’re looking for a sleep dentist in Omaha who has experience and detailed training in providing this type of treatment, please call (402) 493-4175 today for an appointment at the Advanced Dental Sleep Treatment Center today.