Let’s face it, snoring is not attractive, nor is it fun. When a person or their partner snores, it can significantly interrupt their night’s sleep, causing tense relationships. To help your patients give the gift of a better night’s sleep, it is important for your dental office to begin continuing education in the area of dental sleep medicine. Currently, it has been shown that 40% of the American population snores while as many as 16% has diagnosable sleep apnea. With more than 80% of sleep breathing disorders going undiagnosed, your practice can take the next step toward helping your patients and their family members get a better night’s sleep.
What to do
The first thing you should do is to educate yourself on the practice and particulars of dental sleep medicine today. By taking an introductory course on Dental Sleep Medicine you can get a robust introduction to the field of dental sleep medicine. There are several organizations that offer courses and annual meetings to meet the continuing education needs for integrating dental sleep medicine into your practice.
Next, it is important to create a relationship with your local sleep physician. While this may be out of your comfort zone, it is an essential part of gaining the resources you need to give your patients the gift of a better night’s sleep. Sleep physicians are the medical providers who diagnose sleep-disordered breathing and are responsible for the overall care of the patient. As an effective and successful dentist, you will work very closely with your patients’ sleep physician to provide optimal care.
Within your dental practice you can begin to integrate dental sleep therapies. You can do this by creating sleep-focused conversations with your patients. This can be as simple as adding a question to your hygienist’s initial consultation with the patient, such as Do you, or anyone in your family, snore? By adding this simple question, you can help uncover a large population that is in need of care and may not even realize it.
Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is heritable and can often be found in children of snoring parents, so taking charge now is important in their overall health. Asking a simple question at a patient’s appointment can be all you need to offer a successful treatment plan so they can get a better night’s sleep! Your patients’ families will be thanking you for this gift that keeps on giving!