Sleep issues and sleep apnea is a very serious concern today for our patients’ health. I have been giving patients an Epworth sleepiness self-assessment for several years. It is a great way to find out if patients should pursue their sleep with a physician and inquire about having a sleep study.
Another incredible indicator of apnea is if someone else hears you stop breathing. Of course, there are challenges with this approach. First, there has to be someone near you when you sleep to hear what is happening. Second, someone has to be awake in order to listen and watch while you are sleeping. Third, someone has to interpret what is happening. I recommend the SnoreLab app that records and evaluates the sounds made while sleeping. It can even show you graphs of what was happening. Not only is this a great self-learning tool, but the recordings can be taken to the doctor as part of the information to determine if a sleep study is indicated. The product is available on the web and through the App Store.
Several of my patients have used the SnoreLab app and had follow-up studies in a sleep lab. Within my Glendale, AZ practice, I have a Dental Sleep Medicine practice and treat patients with sleep apnea appliances.
To serve patients to the best of their ability, I recommend general dentists learn how to competently develop a Sleep Dental Medicine niche within their practice. I can honestly and wholeheartedly say that The Pankey Institute’s 5-day immersion Dental Sleep Medicine course is one of the best programs in the nation. It is uniquely designed to give dentists the experience of being a sleep apnea patient themselves.