It was only three years ago that I read that less than 1% of American licensed dentists were practicing sleep medicine. In those few years that number has risen to 4%. If we have approximately 205,000 practicing dentists in the USA, then there are only 8200 Dentists serving the needs of the multitude of people affected with sleep disorders.According to a Harvard health report there are 18.9 million undiagnosed cases of obstructive sleep apnea and a minimum of 40% – 1.3 million -of CPAP users who are non-compliant. So that alone conservatively projects 20.2 million victims of obstructive sleep apnea who may be helped by a dentist trained in oral appliance therapy (OAT).
Dental sleep medicine: the hottest button in dentistry today.
Awareness of sleep apnea in America is at an all-time peak. The fires of awareness are being stoked by the public media and by social media. Patients are understanding and becoming increasingly more concerned about the blockage of oxygen to the brain and to other organs. Strokes. Heart attacks. Diabetes. Dementia. Motor vehicle accidents. People are recognizing that they have the symptoms and are asking their Dentists about it. Some doctors have the solutions. Every Dentist would like to be “The Sleep Dentist.”Seminar training courses are now available through Sleep Group Solutions every week, in different cities, throughout the United States. They are training dentists to discover the victims of sleep apnea and to treat them with the most appropriate modalities. Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is the most convenient and preferred therapy for the mild and moderate cases and for those patients who cannot tolerate the CPAP device. Fortunately, this is where the dentist in shining armor rides in on a white horse to the rescue. Dentists, we like to say, are on the front line of the battle against sleep apnea. Dentists are in the optimum position to see the signs and symptoms and can offer the most preferred solutions to the problem.