Untreated Sleep Apnea is Costing Us Billions

We know that untreated sleep apnea can lead to further complications in a person’s overall health–that’s an easy one. But did you also know that untreated sleep apnea is costing us billions? It is and that is just another reason why you, as a dentist, should continue your education in the area of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea is Costly

According to a report commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is costing the United States about $150 billion annually. Wow, that’s a lot of money. But what does that cost factor in? The estimated cost includes:

  • $26.2 billion in car accidents
  • $6.5 billion in workplace accidents
  • $30 billion in increased healthcare utilization and medication costs
    • This is due to comorbidities such as Hypertension, Diabetes and Stroke.

Sleep apnea is affecting 29.4 million (roughly 12%) of the adult population. While 12% doesn’t seem like that much, it is still too much. For a condition that is easily treatable, there shouldn’t be so many people that go untreated or undiagnosed. Through diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, it is estimated that it could result in $100 billion in savings–now that’s a lot.

Health Conditions and Untreated Sleep Apnea

Now that you know the financial ramifications of untreated sleep apnea, let’s take a refresher on the health conditions resulting from it:

  • Heart Disease – Sleep apnea can lead to heart attacks, which cause people to die in the middle of the night due to low oxygen or the stress of waking up frequently during sleep.
  • High Blood Pressure – OSA can contribute to high blood pressure due to the frequency of waking up at nighttime. This causes hormonal systems to go into overdrive.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – People suffering from type 2 diabetes will often suffer from sleep apnea, which can also lead to obesity, which is the number one cause of sleep apnea.
  • Acid Reflux – There’s no proof that sleep apnea causes acid reflux or persistent heartburn, but it has been shown that sleep apnea sufferers complain of acid reflux.
  • Obesity – A leading cause and side effect of sleep apnea, obesity raises the risk of sleep apnea due to weight gain. Losing weight can often help cure sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be easily treated, so why haven’t you taken the steps to offering treatment options in your office? Let’s get started. Continuing education will help you offer advanced services for a treatment that could save us billions each year.

Join Dr. Patel and Nierman Practice Management in Las Vegas

Ready to complete more continuing education courses? Come and join us November 11-12th in Las Vegas for the Dental Sleep, TMJ, and Craniofacial Pain Symposium! In this symposium, we bring together the brightest minds in sleep and pain related specialties. Why? To bring their knowledge into education so that everyone can understand the roles different specialties play in not only sleep apnea, but TMD and Craniofacial Pain–even Tourette’s treatment. We join forces with experienced sleep and TMD dentists to gain the skills you need to build strong referral relationships in addition to growing your practice.

What We Will Learn

I know Las Vegas is a place to go for fun and warmth, but you will also be getting some of the best education possible. After each session, feel free to have your fun, but make sure you’re paying attention to this symposium–it’ll go a long way for your dental practice. This symposium is geared towards dental practices that are currently involved in sleep apnea treatment, or TMJ and craniofacial pain treatment, and are interested in growing their specialties. By working closely with the medical community, you can accomplish this and we can help.

The sessions will also include a detailed cross-coding breakout for more in-depth information on how to maximize your patient’s medical benefits for sleep apnea, TMD, implants/oral surgery, and other procedures. You should attend this sleep, TMD and Craniofacial Pain symposium to:

  • Increase your knowledge in sleep medicine, TMD and Pain.
  • Build strong referral relationships.
  • Bill medical insurance and increase case acceptance.

For more information you can visit my Lectures page or Nierman Practice Management. We look forward to seeing you all in Las Vegas November 11-12th for continuing education!

Dive Deeper into Dental Sleep Medicine

That long stretch at the end of the day feels great! And, what you might look forward to the most is sitting back, relaxing and finally getting some rest. However, not everyone can say the same thing. While we all want rest and relaxation, some people often wake up feeling even more tired than when they went to bed. And that is never a good thing.

This means the person is most likely suffering from a sleep disordered breathing condition like obstructive sleep apnea or a form of it. When this occurs, most people don’t even realize it unless their bed partner says something. And, even when they are aware, many people don’t seek treatment for their condition. To help patients get the care they need, dentists should provide dental sleep medicine in their practices. Let’s take a closer look at what dental sleep medicine is in comparison to periodontology:

What is Dental Sleep Medicine (DSM)?

DSM is an area of dentistry focusing on the use of oral appliance therapy to manage sleep-disordered breathing, which includes snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Dentists pioneered the use of oral appliance therapy for the treatment of OSA and snoring. The use of an oral appliance allows for a more comfortable treatment option for many patients that might be CPAP inept. It is similar to a mouth guard for sports or an orthodontic retainer, which makes for an easier solution to a condition. A custom-fit oral sleep appliance is an effective treatment for preventing the airway from collapsing by supporting the jaw in a forward position. An easy solution for a complicated condition. And, with the help of a sleep physician, you can receive proper diagnosis in order to properly treat your patient.

What is Periodontology?

Periodontology is a dental specialty that involves the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of diseases of the supporting and surrounding tissues of the teeth or their substitutes. It is also the maintenance of the health, function and esthetics of these structures and tissues. In other words, a periodontist is a dentist who specializes in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of periodontal disease, as well as the placement of dental implants.

A Difference in Approach

While periodontology focuses on prevention, diagnosis and treatment, so does dental sleep medicine. However, dental sleep medicine dentists don’t do the diagnosing. Instead, dental sleep medicine dentists work with sleep physicians to gain a diagnosis after they might have noticed symptoms or signs of sleep disordered breathing or a patient’s responses to a questionnaire showed a possibility of this condition. From a diagnosis through a sleep physician, dentists can plan for proper treatment with oral appliance therapy.

A Joint Effort

Research has shown that periodontal disease is associated with several other systemic diseases. It has always been thought that bacteria were the factor linking periodontal disease to other diseases, but, more recently, research has shown that inflammation may be the culprit. By treating inflammation, it may not only help to manage periodontal diseases, but also the management of other chronic inflammatory conditions, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Acid Reflux

Similarly, sleep apnea affects the body in the same way.  From increased risk of cardiovascular disease to diabetes, comorbidities of sleep apnea are nothing to be ignored. By treating sleep apnea and periodontal disease, you can help your patients prevent further complications and systemic conditions.

Take a stand and help your patients receive the best care available. Remember, you’re often the first step toward a healthier life for your patients, so make sure you are aware of signs and symptoms.

How to Use Dr. Patel’s Educational Sleep Apnea Book

In March of 2015 I teamed up with Dr. Dillard to create Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To. Together we wanted to educate dentists and other physicians on sleep apnea and the options available for treatment. If you haven’t picked up this educational book on sleep apnea, I highly suggest purchasing at least one copy now. And, if you have already purchased the book, now what?

With the availability of this educational book on sleep apnea, I want to help you help your patients receive the care they need through better understanding. Purchase the book for yourself or your entire dental office. By reading this book you can take the next steps toward a better understanding of sleep apnea and the treatment options available. Let’s take a look at a few ways you can use this educational book to help your patients and staff in the area of sleep apnea.

Educate Patients on Sleep Apnea

The main purpose of this sleep apnea book is to get your patients “in the know” about sleep apnea. We work to inform you and your patients on sleep apnea and what it is–because not everyone understands this often debilitating sleep disorder. By understanding sleep apnea, your patients can take proactive steps toward better health.

Whether you sell this book to your patient, or give it to them, allow your patient to read this book for further knowledge of sleep apnea and treatment options available. The goal of this book is to educate patients on what sleep apnea is and what treatment options, other than CPAP, are currently available for comfortable care.

Maintain an Informed Dental Team

Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To can also be a beneficial tool for your office to read themselves while also sharing the information with patients. Supply this book for your team, or have them purchase the book to improve their knowledge and understanding of sleep apnea ($15 is a steal for a book these days!). While it is important for patients to understand this condition, it is even more important for your dental office to know sleep apnea, what it is and how to treat it. Knowledgeable staff members go a long way in helping with diagnosis and treatment of your patients.

Take charge of your office and your patients’ health by providing, “Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To.” The more your patients and staff know, the better they are equipped to take the next steps in sleep apnea recognition and treatment. Click here to purchase Freedom from CPAP: Sleep Apnea Hurts, the Cure Doesn’t Have To.