Why Have A Dentist Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Why Have A Dentist Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
Posted on 10/08/2019
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Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a silent epidemic in America. Estimates state that some 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but up to 80% of cases remain undiagnosed, leaving millions of people suffering from a condition that not only robs them of sleep, but can prove life-threatening. Thankfully, sleep apnea diagnosis and treatment have come far, and many patients can be treated without a CPAP machine. But don't head to a specialized sleep doctor just yet – in many cases, it's a better idea to have a dentist treat obstructive sleep apnea, and we at Federici Dental here to explain why.

H2 Treating Sleep Apnea with a Dentist

There are a number of reasons why your general dentist is in the best position to treat obstructive sleep apnea. For one, dentists have a unique position in healthcare in that they see their patients twice a year for up to an hour at a time. Doctors simply don't have that much time to screen for sleep apnea, and it's often overlooked unless a patient explicitly asks about it. 

Furthermore, dentists already check the soft palate and throat during regular oral cancer screenings. These are the same tissues that can anatomically predispose you to develop OSA. Combined with an effective screening tool and precise questionnaires, this makes it easy for dentists check for sleep apnea as a normal part of treatment. If your Manahawkin dentist does think OSA is a possibility, they can recommend a home sleep test (HST). 

Thanks to advances in technology, HSTs can now often be performed in the comfort of your own home rather than in a sleep lab, although there are cases where a sleep lab makes more sense. In addition to an HST, some patients may need a PSG (polysomnogram), which is an in-lab study that your doctor can recommend if they feel your characteristics would be better observed in a lab. Unfortunately, New Jersey is one of the four states in which a general dentist cannot prescribe an HST, so you'll need to see your primary care physician or another doctor to prescribe the test. However, your dentist can recommend this, and the prescription is covered under most health insurance and Medicare plans. 

Finally, dentists with the proper training can fabricate custom medical-grade oral appliances to treat sleep apnea without a CPAP machine. These treatments are only available from dentists with the highest level of training, so it's important to only seek treatment with a qualified dentist who's been verified through the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM). Even better is to see a dentist with the rank of Diplomate from the ABDSM, which is the highest dental sleep medicine credential available – only 425 dentists in the country are Diplomates. And thankfully, our very own dentist, Dr. David E. Federici, happens to be one of the 425 Diplomates of the ABDSM, making us one of the most highly-qualified dental practices in the country for treating obstructive sleep apnea. 

H2 Schedule a Consultation with the Sleep Apnea Experts at Federici Dental

Sleep apnea is a condition that affects millions of people, and if you think you may be suffering or want to learn more about treatment, we can help. Contact us today to learn more about our CPAP alternatives and sleep apnea treatments, or feel free to request a consultation online. We can't wait to hear from you, and we look forward to helping you reclaim healthy, restful sleep!