By: Danielle Duncan
Dental sleep medicine, a new and foreign concept for many dental practitioners across the United States and beyond. But, what if we told you that implementing dental sleep medicine in your practice not only benefits your patients health, but your dental practice as well?
Approximately 1 in every 15 Americans, a whopping 6.62% of the total population, have sleep apnea. Upwards of 20% of American adults have sleep apnea, of which, 90% go undiagnosed and untreated. Untreated sleep apnea poses a huge risk to patients and can prevent appropriate treatment of patients for other ailments or disease.
When sleep apnea, including OSA (Obstructive sleep apnea) goes undiagnosed, it is linked to a wide array of health problems that can spiral out of control. Some of these issues are:
- Cardiovascular disease.
- or potential increase in the risk of death.
But, why does sleep apnea cause such destructive chain events in the body’s micro-biome? Well, when a patient isn’t getting enough oxygen while they are asleep, it can trigger your brain into increasing the heart rate and blood pressure to wake the sleeper up. This vicious cycle of sleep and waking due to blood pressure changes can increase inflammation throughout the whole body.
As you know, chronic inflammation can contribute to a slew of different medical conditions or cause the worsening of such conditions.
As a dental provider, you want what is best for your patients, and that means contributing to whole body health, not just focusing on oral healthcare.
Dental sleep medicine is gaining traction in the dental profession. When dentists get on board, it helps to take the strain off of their medical doctor cohorts and helps to reduce the risk of sleep apnea going untreated, especially in cases where the lack of proper airflow is related to oral and maxillofacial causes.
Trained dentists are able to screen, detect, refer, and provide sleep testing right from the comfort of their own offices with new at-home sleep testing procedures that do not require a dedicated sleep lab to test patients for OSA.
Why are at home sleep tests so great?
First and foremost, testing patients at home for their potential sleep apnea diagnosis helps to give patients a peace of mind. Nothing is worse for sleep than trying to catch some Zs in an unfamiliar, and often too cold sleep laboratory while hooked to a plethora of machines.
While at home testing doesn’t collect the same amount of data as an in-lab test, is provides a great benchmark to start the testing and is a great resource if a dentist feels that their patient may be suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is characterized by interrupted breathing during sleep.
These tests are primarily used for patients who are otherwise healthy, without other underlying medical conditions such as congestive heart failure, COPD, or obesity as they can affect the results of an at home sleep study.
What happens during an at home sleep test?
During an at-home sleep test, patients will follow the instructions of their dentist or medical provider on how to use the sleep testing equipment, which records breathing and blood oxygen levels that allows the prescribing dentist to determine if the patient has OSA.
The benefits of an at home sleep test are simple, the patient is able to get a better, more accurate night’s rest in the comfort of their own home, while providing their dental provider with the data they need to make a definitive diagnosis of sleep apnea or to have a better understanding of what treatment the patient will need to get a better night’s rest.
Why are dental practices implementing dental sleep medicine?
As dentistry evolves, many dental practices are taking a whole-body approach to the care they provide their patients every day. Studies have found that oral health doesn’t just stop at the mouth, it can make a big impact on a patient’s whole body as well.
Dentists and their teams are now starting to see patients in a whole new light, including diagnosing and treating OSA (obstructive sleep apnea) The implementation of dental sleep medicine is simple but has a huge impact on the lives of patients and provides a great ROI for dental practices that start seeing sleep patients!
How do you implement dental sleep medicine into your practice?
Implementing dental sleep medicine into your practice has never been easier. With products like the Zmachine and easy to use software and applications like Drowzle, you will be set to start treating sleep patients from the comfort of your own dental practice.
Still not sure how to implement dental sleep medicine? Schedule a call with our amazing staff who will answer any questions you have!