You may have come across dental sleep medicine and may be curious about what dental sleep medicine really is and the qualifications needed for a dentist to practise dental sleep medicine? Understanding what sleep medicine is and the dentist’s role in improving an individual’s sleep is the first place to start when you want to learn about dental sleep medicine certification. 

What is Dental Sleep Medicine?

Dental sleep medicine is an area of special interest within general dentistry. Board-certified sleep medicine dentists are trained to use oral appliance therapy (OAT) to help treat sleep disorders and sleep-related conditions. It involves screening, analyzing, and managing certain sleep-related breathing disorders like Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Dentists in this field work with a team of medical sleep specialists and other health care professionals in the field to provide treatment options for each patient. 

Sleep apnea and other sleep-related disorders are usually diagnosed by sleep physicians dental practitioners are required to screen the patients and provide specific treatment for individual patients. 

Role of Dentists in Treating Sleep Apnea and Other Sleep Disorders

Obstructive sleep apnea has become a growing threat in the US and results in dangerous health risks like high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and liver problems. Dentists play an important role in the diagnosis of sleep-related breathing disorders. Sleep disorders are first diagnosed by qualified sleep specialists and then referred to a board-certified sleep medicine dentist to recommend treatment methods depending on the severity of the condition. 

Sleep medicine dentists are well trained to use an oral appliance, a medical device that is fitted into the mouth of the patient while they are asleep. The instrument functions to create extra room for the tongue at the back of the throat. It also helps to loosen up the soft tissue in that area which may block the patient’s airway restricting the airflow. 

The dentist typically starts his treatment process by going through the patient’s medical history to identify the symptoms. This is followed by a series of physical assessments, diagnoses, and sleep tests so the doctor can determine whether or not an oral device is the appropriate course of treatment for such a patient. According to the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM), dental professionals that want to practice sleep medicine must undergo dental sleep medicine training.

When you have an appointment with a sleep medicine Dentists, you should expect the following:

  • Request for medical history
  • Screen for and identify medical symptoms and co-factors
  • Provide referrals to certified sleep physicians for appropriate testing
  • Select, fit and adjust oral care appliances
  • Educate patients on potential sleep disorders and health risks
  • Work with a team of healthcare specialists including physicians, sleep specialists, ENT, dentists and oral surgeons to improve the patients sleep quality and health. 

Certifications Needed to Practice Dental Sleep Medicine

To practice dental sleep medicine in the US as a dentist, you need certifications from the AADSM (American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine) or ABDSM (American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine). It is a non-profit organization that focuses on advancing the role of dentists in the treatment of sleep-related breathing disorders.

This advancement is achieved through clinical research, collaborative care, public relations, practice standards and professional education. An AADSM credential is proof that a dentist is qualified to practice dental sleep medicine and use oral appliance therapy as a form of treatment. The credential shows that patients can trust that the oral appliances custom-fit by a sleep medicine dentist are approved by the FDA and safe for use. 

Before any health care can practice sleep medicine, they must have acquired the following:

Knowledge of the different sleep-breathing disorders and sleep-related disordered behaviors to properly diagnose patients and provide the appropriate course of treatment. Series of training required to allow them to decide if oral appliance therapy is the correct line of treatment for a particular patient. 

The technical expertise allows certified professionals to use oral appliances best suited for patients to help treat a certain disorder. The dentist is required to measure your mouth and jaw, then create a mold or digital impression of your teeth to ensure the oral appliance fits perfectly in the patient’s mouth to get the best results.


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