Dental students typically spend about eight years in college–from their bachelor to their dental degree. Throughout those years in college, these students will learn a lot to prepare them for their journey into dentistry. However, how many hours do they actually spend learning about sleep apnea or receiving any sleep apnea education?

It’s actually not uncommon for students to not learn about sleep apnea in school, or only receiving minimal hours. With little to no hours dedicated to sleep apnea in dental school, it’s time we start finding ways to include more courses for our students.

Sleep apnea education – What is missing?

While OSA does affect an increasing number of people, the role of dentist in recognition, screening, and management has not developed as it should to properly maintain successful treatment. It is important to provide updated information to dentists and dental students on pathophysiology, consequences, and treatment options of OSA with a focused discussion on oral appliance therapy.

These topics are not routinely included in current dental curriculum in many schools, which is why it is more important than ever to provide these courses. And while it is not set in stone what the best curriculum is, we do know that it is a necessary addition for dental students to learn about sleep apnea and oral appliance therapy.

What can we do to help increase sleep apnea education in dental schools?sleep apnea dental education

This can be a long process in trying to get more schools to incorporate sleep apnea courses in their curriculum, but there are already many out there that are working on improving the classes they offer their students while in dental school. Now is the time to begin implementing dental sleep medicine programs for educating students and preparing them for advanced services in future practices.

As a dentist, you can offer insight to your alma mater. And if you are a professor at a university or college, you can propose your ideas to the dean. By bringing this area of dentistry to the schools, we can take the next step in offering advanced care to our patients across the country. Providing classes in dental sleep medicine at our universities and colleges are necessary for improving the care our future dentists can provide their patients.

Contact us to learn more about what you need to know about dental sleep medicine, how to reach students and residents, and how to contact your local school.

Author: Mayoor Patel, DDS, MS