By doing this you are also establishing a solid relationship with your local physician because you are informing them that you are screening your dental patients for sleep apnea and will be referring to them for proper evaluation and diagnosis. The physician will also play a large role in a follow-up sleep study after the patient has begun oral appliance therapy. They will make sure the treatment is working or provide treatment adjustments as needed.
As a dentist, you can still screen for potential patients that might be suffering from an undiagnosed sleep-breathing disorder. However, a referral should be made to a sleep physician for diagnosis. Diagnosis should be in the hands of the physicians, but we need to learn to work with each other rather than against each other.
Sleep medicine does not just constitute sleep-breathing disorders, but other disorders as well. As dentists, we are not well versed in it; hence why we need to depend on our physician colleagues.
Mayoor Patel, DDS, MS, is the owner of Atlanta’s Craniofacial Pain and Dental Sleep Center of Georgia.