Sleep Apnea: Prosthodontists Recommend Patient Treatment Option Not Mentioned in News
Prosthodontist Paul McLornan, D.D.S., M.S., F.A.C.P., in San Antonio, Texas, noticed that medical doctors interviewed recommended surgery and Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) as the two main ways to combat sleep apnea, without mentioning a common, non-surgical solution that prosthodontists use to treat the conditionOral Appliance Therapy.
CPAP is still considered the “gold standard” treatment by many physicians but with reported compliance rates less than 50%, patients must be educated about the proven, alternative therapies.
As a prosthodontist, I know that the Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) guidelines recommend that patients with mild or moderate sleep apnea should be given a choice between being prescribed a CPAP machine or an oral appliance, advises Dr. McLornan. It’s important to remind patients about all sleep apnea treatment options, including this common, non-surgical solution that prosthodontists use today called Oral Appliance Therapy.
The oral appliances used to treat sleep apnea usually consist of custom made, removable upper and lower trays that fit over the patient’s teeth. There is a mechanism that attaches the upper and lower trays and holds the patients jaw forward while they sleep. Before bed, a person suffering from sleep apnea can simply attach the trays together overnight, and then remove them in the morning. By holding the jaw forward, the oral appliance holds the tongue forward and keeps the airway open, preventing it collapsing, which is what occurs in sleep apnea.
Prosthodontists have advanced dental training specifically for oral health conditions, including sleep apnea, and specialize in fitting and finding the correct position to treat mild to moderate cases of sleep apnea without surgery or CPAP. Prosthodontists can also provide a solution for severe sleep apnea patients who can’t tolerate wearing a CPAP mask to bed every night.
With sleep apnea concerns growing, increased awareness about treatment option choice is critical.
The American College of Prosthodontists is the professional association of dentists with advanced specialty training who restore and replace teeth to create optimal oral health, both in function and appearance including dental implants, dentures, veneers, crowns and teeth whitening.