The Why and How of Dental Sleep Medicine

Do you know that as a dental practitioner, your experience and expertise uniquely situate you in a position to manage Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) with Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT)?   The facts surrounding this public healthcare crisis are staggering: 

  • 55 million adults suffer from a sleep disorder,
  • 80-90% of adults with OSA remain undiagnosed, and
  • 1 in 4 of your patients is already suffering from OSA

With 25% of your existing patients suffering from OSA and the vast majority of your town remaining undiagnosed, your role in managing OSA in your patients is both crucial to solving this public healthcare crisis and a valuable revenue stream for your dental practice.  

But how do you get started?  The recently updated American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines recommend that dentists first become qualified to treat sleep apnea with OAT.  As you must work with a physician to manage OSA, you should look for an organization to help you become qualified in both the dental and medical aspects of sleep medicine.  When choosing an organization, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Does this organization offer easily accessible, online and on-demand, step-by-step credentialing programs that provide me with the necessary dental and medical knowledge?  Becoming a qualified clinician no longer means traveling across the country and spending countless hours away from your family and practice.  The world is digital now.  If an organization requires you to travel multiple times to prepare for a pen-and-paper credentialing examination, ask yourself why?  Could it be that they do not care to be innovative?  Perhaps they are antiquated?  No matter what the reasoning, your dental practice is successful because you must remain on top of the industry and remain an innovative key player in the field.  You should expect the same from the organization you choose.
  2. Does this organization offer additional training programs for my clinical team?  Your entire staff must be on board to successfully implement OAT.  As with the above, look for online and on-demand programs taught by a Registered Dental Hygienist or other specialist.
  3. Can I get a hold of the Founder & Executive Director, Director of Operations, or other key players in the organization?  Ask yourself: If I can’t get a hold of them while deciding to give them my business, will I get a hold of them after I’ve already paid them?
  4. Does this organization offer high-quality, interdisciplinary educational events and annual conferences?  Online training is one thing, but organizations should also offer annual conferences where their membership can meet face-to-face.  Look for conferences that bring all relevant healthcare practitioners together.  You must work with a physician to treat OSA.  If an event is only open to dentists or only open to physicians, ask yourself what the point is of attending? 

Ultimately, the organization you choose should be able to provide you with all the tools necessary to build and maintain a successful dental sleep medicine practice.  The Academy of Clinical Sleep Disorders Disciplines is proud to offer SmileSource members a 15% discount on the ACSDD Dental Sleep Medicine Runway – a program designed to do just that.