San Francisco, CA – Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious condition that requires specialized care, and if left untreated, can lead to dangerous conditions. In the past two decades, dentists have played an increasingly larger role in treating patients with OSA through oral appliance therapy.
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine recently offered six recommendations for oral appliance therapy.
“Dentists are playing a very important role in effectively treating patients with OSA,” says San Francisco dentist Dr. Greg Larson. “But, it’s important that we continuously look at the work we are doing to make sure we are following best practices.”
The new guidelines are:
1. It is recommended that sleep physicians prescribe oral appliances for patients who request treatment for snoring, but do not present OSA.
2. Dentists use a custom, titratable appliance over non-custom oral devices.
3. For patients who are intolerant of CPAP therapy, or who request an alternate form of therapy, oral appliances should be prescribed.
4. Dentists provide oversight and follow-up or oral appliance therapy to be sure there are no dental-related side effects or occlusal changes.
5. Sleep physicians conduct follow-up sleep testing to confirm treatment efficacy and to see if any improvements can be made.
6. Patients are instructed to return to sleep physician and dentist for periodic office visits.
The guideline also stressed the importance of oral appliance treatment being provided by a qualified dentist. This means one that has the technical skills, knowledge and clinical judgement needed to determine outcomes and risks.
Dr. Larson has studied sleep apnea extensively and has the knowledge and skill needed to properly fit and treat OA patients through oral appliance therapy. He works closely with other experts, such as including ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctors, pulmonologists, physical therapists, orthodontists and sleep medicine specialists to determine the right course of action for each patient. His custom dental orthotics are comfortable, and work to properly open the patient’s airway to encourage air exchange and oxygenation during sleep.
“Proper treatment using orthotic appliances takes great skill, and I’m happy to see that the AASM and AADSM are updating their treatment guidelines to ensure the best outcomes for all OSA patients,” Says Dr. Larson.
If you suffer from excessive snoring or sleep apnea, it might be time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Larson, and be on the road to better sleep, and a healthier life.
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