Q: You’ve described sleep breathing disorders as a pillar of contemporary oral health care. Why should other clinicians see them as such?
A: It is my opinion that dentists should be on the front line for screening and identifying those patients with sleep breathing disorders. There are countless adults and children who are afflicted with this serious health issue. When we work in concert with our physician colleagues, especially our pulmonologists, together we can accurately diagnose and treat with appropriate oral devices many, many patients who are CPAP-intolerant and noncompliant. Many patients will accept and benefit from well created oral devices.
Q: What prompted you to venture into this area of diagnosis and treatment?
A: I had been attempting to treat patients with sleep breathing disorders, but when these patients had their follow-up sleep studies, we did not achieve the level of success that I would have expected from the traditional creation of these devices. I had been encouraged by several of my colleagues from around the country who had great success in treating their patients with technology that uses sonic waves to identify the best position and opening of the airway to enable our oral devices to really work. My pulmonologist and our patients have benefited from my incorporation of this technology into my sleep medicine practice.
Q: What is the first step for a clinician who wants to venture into this area of treatment?
A: I would highly recommend taking some advanced sleep medicine courses to learn about the various technologies that are available to treat our patients. It was the learning of this technology and the appropriate integration of it in my patient care that got me started in this new direction. Sharing the benefits of using this technology with my pulmonologist has created a professional relationship that gives her confidence in referring patients to me, so that I can provide more effective care.