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Obstructive Sleep Apnea: What Prosthodontists Need to Know

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common yet serious condition where breathing repeatedly stops and starts during sleep. [1] As prosthodontists, we have a unique role in identifying and managing OSA, especially with oral appliance therapy for select patients.


Why Prosthodontists Should Care about OSA

Our in-depth understanding of oral structures places us at the forefront of recognizing OSA risk factors. OSA has far-reaching health consequences beyond just disruptive sleep – it's been linked to cardiovascular disease, hypertension, daytime sleepiness, and accidents. [2, 4, 5] By contributing to OSA care, we improve not only our patients' sleep, but their overall health and well-being.


Treatment and Diagnosis of OSA

While continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) remains the gold-standard treatment for moderate to severe OSA, oral appliance therapy (OAT) is a valid option for mild to moderate cases or patients who cannot tolerate CPAP. [2, 4, 5] As prosthodontists, we're experts in custom-fitting and managing these appliances.

Confirming an OSA diagnosis typically involves overnight polysomnography (sleep study), with home testing as an alternative in certain cases. [4, 5] While screening questionnaires exist, it's important to remember they have limitations and shouldn't replace formal diagnosis. [5]


Collaboration is Key

Prosthodontists don't treat OSA in isolation. Successful patient outcomes often rely on referring to sleep physicians and working as part of a multidisciplinary team.


The Bottom Line

By understanding OSA, its health risks, and treatment options, prosthodontists can significantly improve patient care. Oral appliance therapy is a valuable tool in our arsenal, and collaboration with other healthcare providers leads to the best results for our patients.


References

  1. Mohan, S., Gowda, E., & Banari, A. (2015). Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA): A prosthodontic perspective.. Medical journal, Armed Forces India, 71 Suppl 2, S395-9 . https://doi.org/10.1016/j.mjafi.2013.09.007.

  2. Jordan, A., McSharry, D., & Malhotra, A. (2014). Adult obstructive sleep apnoea. The Lancet, 383, 736-747. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60734-5.

  3. Chander, N. (2020). Sleep apnea and prosthodontic implications. The Journal of the Indian Prosthodontic Society, 20, 335 - 337. https://doi.org/10.4103/jips.jips_323_20.

  4. Kabir, A., Ifteqar, S., & Bhat, A. (2013). Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults. Hospital Practice, 41, 57 - 65. https://doi.org/10.3810/hp.2013.10.1081.

  5. Semelka, M., Wilson, J., & Floyd, R. (2016). Diagnosis and Treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Adults.. American family physician, 94 5, 355-60 . https://doi.org/10.1037/e676562012-001.

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