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Start a Conversation with Your Patients About Sleep Disordered Breathing

Tired woman sleeping over a laptop computer while working

Testing for airway problems in the dental office is growing in acceptance by the dental community everywhere. Isn’t it time you started that conversation with your patients? 

The significant negative health impact on patients exhibiting bruxism, snoring, and the debilitating effects of interrupted sleep, the importance of this discipline should not be overlooked. While most patients do not seek out their dentist for help with these problems, the symptoms can often be observed in the dental chair.

The presence of worn and ground dentition can be a telltale sign of airway interference for an astute practitioner. A few strategic questions can start the process of exploring potentially damaging sleep-related challenges, which can often be mitigated by the use of the proper protocol. This may include prescribing home testing with one of several effective monitors available for this purpose. These instruments can monitor masseter behavior, heart rate, oxygen desaturation, airflow, effort, pulse rate, bruxism, body position, and even snoring – all to determine a medical diagnosis of sleep disorders, including sleep apnea.

It may seem obvious to some dentists that they should seize the opportunity of helping their patient base by examining their health beyond the oral cavity, but oftentimes the opportunity is overlooked. One of the easiest ways to start the conversation is by having your patient start it. A simple brochure displayed in the waiting room or handed to the patient while in the chair waiting for the dentist can start the thought process. Then, when you ask if they snore or you bring up the subject of night grinding, they are ready – and maybe even eager – to discuss what may be done to prevent it.

We developed that simple brochure and it is available to you – at no cost from us – in a PDF form. Simply print it out in the office, or, if you want a better looking copy, send the PDF to a local printer.

The short, illustrated brochure asks the patient is they recognize any of the symptoms of Sleep Disordered Breathing and what it may mean to them personally. It also informs them of the possible treatment protocols for each disorder.

We hope you find this useful. To dive much deeper into implementing the discipline of sleep medicine into your practice, view the attached webinar by clicking on it below.

This comprehensive webinar by Dr. Ken Berley, DDS, JD, DABDSM, will cover the dental sleep medicine team, records and consent forms, screening parameters, the effective use of home sleep tests in the office, and much more.

Encourage your team to join you for this webinar, as you will want to start implementing some of the ideas you’ll learn in this webinar the very next day.

Shirlene O'Russa

Shirlene O’Russa, R.D.H. is Whip Mix’s Western Region Territory Sales Manager Shirlene (Charlie), began her career in dentistry as a dental assistant, then as a dental hygienist. After practicing dental hygiene for 18 years, Charlie started her own business by hosting dental education seminars while working as a Public Relations representative for Delta Dental of Illinois. Ms. O’Russa obtained a degree in Communications with a Minor in Marketing, from Bradley University in 2000. After graduating she started in a sales and marketing position with Dental Arts Laboratory. Charlie joined the Occlusion Division of Water Pik in 2007 where she became the Territory Sales Manager for the Western region of the U.S. Charlie serves as our resident expert on Sleep Dentistry in medicine. She is currently responsible for dental schools located in 22 states. Charlie currently lives in Peoria Illinois.

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