Dentists may not have the ability to order a sleep test on their patients exhibiting sleep disorder symptoms like bruxism, large scalloped tongue, and dry mouth. However, they can still be very helpful in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea patients.
Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) has been said to be one of the most comfortable, discreet, and convenient treatments for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea. In partnership with DreamDocs and REMware, dentists can now diagnose and treat patients experiencing sleep apnea symptoms.
A dentist is often the first healthcare provider to help diagnose sleep disorders, since many patients spend more time with their dentists than other providers. Dentists may ask patients to take and complete an Epworth Sleepiness Scale, screening a series of questions regarding sleep and lifestyle habits. There are also indicators that dentists may examine for:
- Narrow maxillary and mandibular arches
- Narrow vaulted hard pallets
- Class II retrognathic mandible
- Inability to see the posterior wall of the pharynx, and associated tissues
- A long soft palate that hangs below the posterior aspect of the tongue
Once a dentist has determined their patient would be a good candidate for a sleep test, they may work with REMware and a DreamDocs board-certified sleep physician to prescribe and diagnose through telemedicine including a home sleep test.
OAT for sleep apnea patients has advantages and disadvantages, but CPAP therapy does as well. While there are some side effects of OAT (excessive salivation, dry mouth, tooth and jaw pain, temporary bite changes), it is still an improvement over CPAP therapy. The size, cost, and convenience of OAT make it an enticing treatment option. Patients may have particular preferences and prefer one treatment over the other, but there are now alternatives to traditional CPAP therapy.
By partnering with DreamDocs, dentists now have the ability to screen and treat patients that have OSA. The average dentist sees 8-15 patients per day, and a portion of them likely have undiagnosed sleep apnea. On average, 30% of patients seen by dentists are potential candidates for sleep apnea screening and treatment.
It is important for dentists to recommend a study when suspecting a patient might be having an issue with sleep. A home sleep testing unit, like DreamClear™, helps streamline sleep testing and deliver results in both an efficient and cost-effective manner. To learn more about how dentists can partner with REMware and DreamDocs to help patients improve sleep health, download our brochure today.