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Dentists Should Be At The Front Line Of Sleep Medicine And The Oral Appliance Industry



What do dentists have to do with getting better sleep? A lot more than some might think – including many dentists in America. Oral appliances for sleep apnea have been available for decades, but in recent years there are several distinct areas where the oral appliance industry and dentistry have been particularly aligned, giving dentists an even greater reason to get involved.

There are several key reasons you should make dental sleep medicine part of your practice:

  • It’s a growing field

It is estimated that 50 million people in the United States have some form of sleep disordered breathing. And these millions of Americans are looking for solutions. In recent years, those solutions have come in the form of oral appliances, alternatives that are “less invasive and expensive than CPAP,” according to Sleep Review.

The research firm Frost and Sullivan sees the oral appliance market doubling in the United States by 2020, tremendous growth in an industry already expanding. For dentists, this could mean providing alternative care for patients that need the help, without them needing to go elsewhere.

  • Becoming easier to pay through insurance

One of the major barriers for patients, and by extension dentists, is that insurance providers have been slower to adopt the concept of dental sleep medicine than patients themselves. But that’s changing. “Today the majority of medical insurance companies cover Oral Appliance Therapy,” reports DentistryIQ.

Between Medicare and other insurance providers (and differences state to state), there are still challenges. But as obstructive sleep apnea becomes diagnosed more regularly and insurance providers see this prevalence increasing, they have come around to cover the oral appliances used to treat this disorder more and more.

  • Other previous barriers are going away

In addition to insurance, other barriers are being overcome nationwide. As the Journal of Dental Sleep Medicine finds, as more dentists become options for patients (and physicians to direct patients to), more dentists will join the fray.

CPAP solutions have been around far longer, and thus there is more institutional knowledge on that option. “OA manufacturing is a more recent phenomenon, which has no scale comparable to the industrial process with CPAP,” writes the Journal of Dental Sleep Medicine. But as oral appliances continue growing in the marketplace, the need for more support from the dentistry community will grow.

There is also a barrier between physician and dentist, largely due to the divergent training mechanisms in place. As the Journal of Dental Sleep Medicine reports, “dentists often receive their education in sleep from continuing dental education courses and oral appliance manufacturers whereas physicians can obtain formal training as sleep specialist and from those CPAP companies who also market oral appliances.” This discrepancy has been overcome in recent years as the general education about the value of oral appliances, has increased.

Learn more about the TAP system and our line of oral appliances at TAPIntoSleep.com.