Emerging Role of Dental Sleep Medicine in Treating & Managing Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) remains an important clinical and public health challenge. Overall, OSA is a multifactorial disease that affects nearly 1 billion individuals globally and affects 34% of men and 17% of women in the United States.1,2 Included among the many risk factors for OSA are obesity, a genetically small airway, facial structure abnormalities, and enlarged tongue size. Consequently, OSA is associated with an increased risk for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, hypertension, Type 2 diabetes, as well as all-cause mortality.3

However, the diagnosis and treatment for OSA remain elusive, as approximately 75% of severe cases of OSA of individuals remain undiagnosed and/or undertreated,4 causing a significant burden to the patient and broader healthcare systems in the setting of chronic disease management. Trained dental assessment in the treatment of OSA holds promise for helping to address such challenges by providing an additional means for the primary care assessment of OSA and by offering complimentary treatment options and modalities, including retainer-based therapies.

This review focuses on the clinical presentation of OSA from young children to adults, and the general treatment algorithm for each disease subtype. We will then discuss the emerging field of Dental Sleep Medicine in treatment of OSA, which may be used in synergy with the cornerstone of care, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). This will follow with a section on how general dentists and pediatrics dentists can have a major impact in recognizing and treating patients with OSA in their clinical practice. Through this process, we hope to further underline the value of dentists in the assessment and management of OSA to help reduce the chronic disease burden in the general population.

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Azita Anissi

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