A new study conducted in a Saudi Arabia dental clinic suggests dentists may be better suited to diagnose sleep apnea, according to World Report Now.
According to the latest study conducted by Thikriat Al-Jewair, orthodontic researcher at Buffalo University, dentists are far better sleep apnea diagnosticians than specialized doctors. The main reason for this is the fact that the two single visible signs of the illness are enlarged tonsils and indentations on the tongue caused by teeth pressure.
In order to tests his theory, Dr. Al-Jewair studied 200 patients at a Saudi Arabia dental clinic. The doctors gave the patients the Berlin Questionnaire, and then checked their blood pressure levels and any irregularities in the tonsils, uvula and tongue.
From the 200 patients that the dentists suspected of suffering from sleep apnea, 23 percent were actually affected by the syndrome. Almost 80 percent out of the confirmed 23 were overweight males.
Other signs of sleep apnea are irritability, crankiness, and sleepiness. All of them are caused by the fact that a person that suffers from the syndrome cannot properly rest at night. The patient doesn’t even realize that his or her sleep is interrupted or has poor quality.
Dentists are not trained or equipped to diagnose sleep apnea in America. It would amount to malpractice – working out of their scope of practice
T Wild, MD, DDS
I will respectfully have to correct your statement. Dentists trained in Dental Sleep Medicine have all the knowledge and qualifications to diagnose sleep apnea. However, due to regulations in place at this time, dentists are not legally allowed to ‘diagnose’ sleep apnea. They can screen for it and refer to a sleep physician if they suspect sleep apnea is present. This article however, is not a true research paper, but rather a report that dentists, who more regularly view the inside of a patients mouth, are equipped to identify patients who are more likely to suffer from Obstructive Sleep Apnea due to several pathognomonic markers (tonsil size and tongue crenellation) that are only visible in the oropharynx. It is high time physicians begin to recognize the academic and clinical expertise of their dental colleagues. Dentistry has long since passed the ‘drill, fill and bill’ era. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is an epidemic, and if we can put down the turf wars of the past and work together, those who suffer from it would be much better off.