The oral anatomy can present multiple signs of sleep apnea that no healthcare provider may ever see – except for a dentist.
As a result, dentists play a tremendously essential role in screening patients for sleeping disorders and therefore directing them toward the appropriate treatment.
Changes in Diagnosis Strategies
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 is now possible for dentists to send patients home with a home-based sleep study. The study records data necessary for a professional diagnosis.
Once the kit is returned, it is sent to a licensed physician who reads and interprets the data, who will then make a diagnosis.
Dangers of Unmanaged Sleep Apnea
When a 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 health providers intervening before it’s too late.
As such, it’s extremely important for dentists to be familiar with the signs of sleep apnea. They must screen for these signs during patient examinations.
Some anatomical findings are restricted airways, large neck circumference, excessive attrition and hypertensive mastication muscles. These should raise a red flag during the evaluation.
When such findings become evident, an examination should also consist of screening questions asking for signs of:
- Lethargy/sleepiness during the day
- Sore throat or dry mouth
- Difficulty sleeping
If a patient exhibits positive symptoms, then it’s time to send them home with the sleep study kit. This simple study can increase access to care and treatment.
After the Diagnosis
Depending on the type of sleeping disorder diagnosis, as well as their previous sleep history, the patient may not even be tolerant to CPAP treatment.
This is where the oral health experts come in.
Because certain types of sleep apnea are obstructive in nature, the Renew Sleep Solution oral device will provide optimal treatment for someone who is CPAP intolerant.
This device makes it easier for people who are CPAP intolerant to find an effective solution. By increasing their airflow without a mask or cumbersome machine, they’re more likely to comply with sleep therapy.
A comfortable patient is a happy and healthier patient.
If you or a loved one is suffering from sleep apnea, don’t hesitate to contact us.