Your Regular Dentist Isn’t the Best Choice for Apnea Treatment
If you have been diagnosed with sleep apnea, you may realize that CPAP isn’t right for you. Then you find out that your regular dentist offers an alternative: oral appliance therapy. But is he the best dentist for your sleep apnea treatment? Here are some signs that maybe you should look for a more dedicated sleep dentist.
Little Sleep Apnea Training
Dentists are allowed to offer sleep apnea treatment with little in the way of formal training in the procedure. Some dentists just take a weekend course on sleep apnea treatment and consider that enough.
Check on a dentist’s website to see what level of training they have in sleep apnea treatment. If the website doesn’t mention sleep apnea training, or it seems minimal, maybe you should look for a dentist with more training in this area. In particular, look for references to certification boards in sleep medicine, such as the American Board of Craniofacial Dental Sleep Medicine and the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine. These boards only certify dentists who have undergone a significant amount of sleep apnea training, and often require certification exams to ensure dentists have the necessary expertise.
While dentists don’t need this accreditation to offer sleep apnea treatment, it does give you extra confidence that a facility is set up to help you get good results from your sleep apnea treatment. In order to have an accredited facility, a dentist must show that his entire staff is well-trained in the procedure, adheres to the highest safety standards, and is trained to respond to complications that are more likely among patients with sleep apnea.
Little Sleep Apnea Experience
As awareness of sleep apnea risks increases, more dentists are beginning to offer sleep apnea treatment. However, many of these dentists haven’t been offering the treatment for very long, so they only know what they were taught in their (potentially limited) training.
Sleep apnea training is important, but so is real-world experience helping people treat their sleep apnea. There are some lessons that only experience can teach, and the best sleep dentist for you has learned those lessons already. That way, you don’t have to risk learning them together!
Only Offers One Sleep Appliance
This is a sign that a dentist has little training and/or experience in sleep apnea treatment. Often, dentists will take sleep apnea training courses that are sponsored by a particular appliance manufacturer. If a dentist has only taken one such course, they may offer only the one appliance. They may not understand the limitations of that appliance (the manufacturer likely won’t teach them, and they don’t have the experience to know), so they won’t know that it’s not right for you.
You want a dentist with the training and experience to match you with the best oral appliance for you.
If you look at your dentist’s reviews and see either no reviews at all or no reviews related to sleep apnea treatment, they might not be the right choice for you.
Doesn’t Offer Complete Treatment
Some dentists may look at offering sleep apnea treatment as just making the appliance. However, dentists have to do a lot to meet the American Dental Association (ADA) standard of care for sleep related breathing disorders like sleep apnea. Dentists have to work closely with doctors to make sure that you are properly prescribed an oral appliance, that your appliance is fitted, and that you get a follow-up sleep test to ensure the treatment is effective, as well as periodic follow-ups to confirm the treatment remains effective.