The Virginia Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (VADSM) was organized as a not-for-profit professional organization for scientific and educational purposes related to the practice of dental sleep medicine. As an organization that supports the guidelines of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, VADSM is committed to supporting the highest standards of care for patients suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
It is our policy that patients presenting with symptoms of OSA require a face-to-face evaluation conducted by a qualified physician trained in sleep medicine. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) defines such a physician as one who is licensed by a state to practice medicine and who maintains certification through one of the sponsoring sleep medicine boards of the American Board of Medical Specialties or who is licensed by a state to practice medicine and has been certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine.
SCREENING FOR EARLY INDICATORS
VADSM encourages dental practices, including those involved in the education of dental students, to understand the importance of oral screening for OSA, just as they recognize the need to screen for oral cancer and high blood pressure. As experts of the oral cavity, properly trained dentists in OSA can play an important role in providing optimal patient care. This collaborative approach to patient care has the potential to save lives and improve the quality of life for millions of people.
If left untreated, OSA is a potentially life threatening condition that can increase the risk for serious health problems such as high blood pressure, congestive heart failure, stroke, diabetes and depression. CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure, is the recommended treatment for sleep apnea. However, up to half of sleep apnea patients don’t comply with CPAP therapy or can’t tolerate it. Oral appliance therapy is used by trained dentists as an effective treatment option for people who are living with snoring and OSA.
Oral appliance therapy uses a “mouth guard-like” device worn only during sleep to maintain an open, unobstructed airway. Effective OAT devices are formed from custom dental impressions made by a dentist. An oral appliance is fitted and adjusted by a dentist to ensure proper fit and maximum effectiveness.
Dentists who have a broad understanding of oral appliance therapy work with a patient’s sleep physician or primary care physician to treat and manage snoring and sleep apnea. Once a patient is diagnosed with primary snoring or OSA by a board-certified sleep physician, a dentist trained in dental sleep medicine can provide effective treatment with OAT.