Sleep apnoea refers to a temporary cessation of breathing while sleeping. Many times the airway is obstructed by the patient’s anatomy, and the placement of a specially designed night guard that repositions the lower jaw and tongue can improve the airflow. Our involvement entails screening for or treatment alternatives for sleep apnea. Sleep apnea solutions include multi-disciplinary liaisons and referrals to sleep medicine physicians and sleep clinics.
National news outlets including CNN, USA Today, the New York Times, CBS, and Fox News, featured a recent study reporting that sleep apnea causes lowered oxygenation levels creating an environment where cancer cells can thrive. It also puts patients at risks for heart attacks, strokes, uncontrolled diabetes, and work related accidents.
Prosthodontists are specialist dentists who have had further training to treat patients with complex conditions such as sleep apnea, with their medical physicians. Medical doctors tend to recommend surgery and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) as the two main ways to combat sleep apnea, without mentioning a common, non‐surgical solution that we, as prosthodontists, use to treat the condition.
CPAP is still considered the "gold standard "treatment by many physicians but with reported compliance rates lower than 50%, patients must be educated about the proven, alternative therapies.
As a prosthodontist, I know that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidelines recommend that patients with mild or moderate sleep apnea should be given a choice between being prescribed a CPAP machine or an oral appliance (also called an oral device.) It's important to remind patients of all sleep apnea treatment options, including this common, non‐surgical solution that prosthodontists use today called Oral Appliance Therapy, which involves a custom‐made sleep apnea device.
Prosthodontists have advanced dental training specifically for oral health conditions, including sleep apnea, and specialize in fitting and finding the correct position to treat mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea without surgery or CPAP. With sleep apnea concerns growing, increased awareness about various treatment options is critical.
Members are welcome to use the patient-friendly videos on the ACP YouTube Channel for practice websites, social media, public presentations, and other occasions where the videos might prove helpful. Current video topics available are: Cosmetic Dentistry, Sleep Apnoea, and Digital Dentistry, along with personal patient stories of how a prosthodontist changed their lives for the better.
- Check out the Media highlights video at GoToAPro.org/videos/ and post the link on your social media sites