Dental Sleep Devices Treat OSA
For patients with mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, dental sleep appliances or oral mandibular advancement devices can help patients breathe better. Dental sleep appliances work by preventing the tongue from blocking the throat and advancing the lower jaw forward. By opening the airway, the oral sleep device reduces obstruction and allows the patient to breathe better throughout the night.
More and more patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are aware that dentists can help by fabricating custom oral sleep appliances. Many sleep physicians are looking for dentists to refer their patients to for CPAP alternative therapy. Sleep physicians make the diagnosis of OSA and often collaborate with a multi-disciplinary team that should include a trained dentist to successfully manage the patient’s disorder.
Are Dental Sleep Appliances A More Attractive Option For Women?
There are many patients that would prefer an alternative to CPAP to treat obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). According to the Society of Women’s Health Organization, nearly 1 in 5 women have sleep apnea, yet many don’t know it and get misdiagnosed.
Women seem less likely to want to use a CPAP, and more find the use of a dental sleep appliance more appealing as a treatment. Studies suggest that from one-third to more than 50% of patients either stop using their CPAP machine or never bother to fill their prescription. They quit for a variety of reasons, but mostly because the device can be cumbersome and uncomfortable.
Adherence to CPAP was much lower among young adults, aged 18-30. In this age group, only about 55% used their CPAP as recommended during the first 90 days. It is also the age group with the widest gender gap in terms of adherence, according to a study performed by researchers at the University of Pittsburg.
Millennials Seek Alternative to CPAP
Active dentists practicing sleep medicine are noticing a rising trend of millennials seeking an alternative to CPAP to treat OSA.
Millennials have surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living adult generation, according to population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. This “Tired Generation” as they have been referred to, suffers from sleep deprivation from stress, obesity, alcohol use; potentially adding to the condition of OSA. It is becoming a necessity for dental practitioners to learn about sleep apnea and how to treat it, to keep up with the latest trends in dentistry, as well to grow their practice.
Dental sleep knowledge and education are crucial for dental practitioners to stay up-to-date on new advancements and technology. Research and advancements in the field of dental sleep medicine are currently underway and show that dental sleep oral appliances are a viable alternative to treat OSA, especially for those who are CPAP intolerant.
If you are currently a dental sleep physician, or interested in learning how to get started, Nierman Practice Management offers continuing education courses for Dental Sleep Medicine, TMJ, and Orofacial Pain.
In addition, sleep apnea is a medically necessary treatment and can be covered by medical insurance.
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Dental Sleep Education Courses are available virtually and online. Visit NiermanPM.com to learn more.