Are you considering oral appliance therapy for the treatment of your primary snoring or obstructive sleep apnea? If so, it is important to find a well-trained dental sleep specialist. The practice of dental sleep medicine is complex. Identifying a provider who has significant experience and knowledge in oral appliance selection, customization and monitoring is critical for optimal treatment outcomes. While your physician may be a great resource for advising you of an experienced sleep dentist in the area, below are questions you may want to ask the provider or office.
Five Things You Should Ask Before Seeing a Dental Sleep Provider
Ask About Their Experience and Training
When it comes to dental sleep medicine, not all dentists are created equal. Oral appliance therapy (OAT) is not an area that every dentist has had training in! Furthermore, just because a dentist has had training does not mean that they consistently treat patients with OAT or focus on this area of dentistry. As endodontists specialize in treating root canals and orthodontists specialize in treating malpositioned teeth, jaws and bite patterns, so a dental sleep medicine provider specializes in treating primary snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. It is important to find a provider that dedicates all or a significant portion of one’s time to this area.
Do They Accept Medical Insurance? Are They Medicare Certified?
Quite frankly, this is a screening level question. The vast majority of practitioners who are well versed in oral appliance therapy accept medical insurance and are Medicare certified.
How Do They Know When to Advance the Oral Appliance? How Do They Determine If It Is Working?
These questions are fundamental to successful treatment. An important element to consider during treatment is the improvement in subjective symptoms. However, there are people who have sleep apnea and are asymptomatic. Furthermore, some patients may not indicate symptomatic improvement even though their sleep condition has improved objectively (determined by a sleep test). Practitioners who are well-trained will often utilize different methods to objectively, in addition to subjectively, monitor how a patient is progressing with treatment.
Will They Refer You Back to Your Physician For a Final Sleep Test?
Once a patient has been properly monitored by the provider, it is critical for the patient to be referred back to their physician for an official efficacy sleep test and further evaluation. Dental sleep medicine providers work hand-in-hand with physicians for successful patient outcomes. The medical office is managing the patient’s care comprehensively and a sleep test to objectively confirm the effectiveness of the oral appliance, interpreted by a board certified sleep physician, is of the utmost importance.
Will They Communicate With Your Physicians?
Sleep is one of the three pillars of health and influences a person’s comprehensive health. Due to this, it is important for the treating dentist to be in communication with your healthcare team to keep them updated on treatment progress.
Lastly, ask us! We are connected with dental sleep specialists around the nation and we would be happy to point you to someone in your area.
Sleep dentists have a unique ability to help people that have primary snoring and/or obstructive sleep apnea. However, it is important to find a well-trained sleep dentist to ensure the best results possible.