It only takes a few minutes to ask your patients a few simple questions — either on a new patient medical questionnaire or when they are next in for treatment — that might help you identify potential candidates for dental sleep therapy.
- Do they snore?
- Do they feel excessively tired during the day?
- Have they been told they stop breathing during sleep?
- Do they have high blood pressure?
- Is their neck size greater than 41 centimetres (females), or 43 centimetres (males)?
If they answer yes to any of these questions, you should refer them to a sleep physician who can conduct a sleep screening test. These tests are used to gauge a patient’s Apnoea/Hypopnoea Index (AHI) score, which determine if:
- the patient snores, but doesn’t have obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) – AHI index < 5
- the patient has mild to moderate OSA (AHI between 5 and 30)
- the patient has severe OSA (AHI over 30)
- If they have Cheynes Stokes syndrome
Results of this test will guide physicians in their choice of treatment options. If you have relationships with sleep physicians, you can help them understand their options: many sleep physicians are very comfortable and familiar with PAP therapy options, but know little about mandibular repositioning devices. You may also have many patients who are non-compliant with PAP therapy or worse, are in desperate need of treatment but flatly refuse to use a PAP machine.
Using sleep tests to monitor progress and minimise chair time
You can use sleep tests yourself. A home sleep screening device like ApneaLink Air™ can be used by physicians to diagnose OSA, but dentists with expertise in dental sleep can also use the same device to better manage the titration process.
By using while you titrate the device, you can monitor your patient’s status directly and use this data to easily and effectively manage the patient. Using ApneaLink Air can lead to a significant saving in valuable chair time by giving you objective data to better evaluate treatment outcomes.
ResMed does not provide medical recommendations. The content of this page is therefore a proposal; it is not intended to replace or modify the clinical evaluation.