The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) offers continuing education (CE) opportunities year-round that help dentists increase their dental sleep medicine expertise, develop relationships with physicians, and grow their practices, according to AADSM president Harold A. Smith, DDS.

Additionally, in January the AADSM began offering the Qualified Dentist designation, which provides proof of basic competency in oral appliance therapy for those on the path to certification or facility accreditation.

“We offer Q&A webinars and in-person courses across the country, online study clubs and many CE opportunities at the AADSM Annual Meeting, which will be held June 2 – 4, 2017, in Boston. In addition to hosting educational events, the AADSM offers practice management resources and publishes the Journal of Dental Sleep Medicine, both of which help equip dentists to excel in dental sleep medicine,” Smith says.

All AADSM CE courses, Smith reports, are taught by licensed dentists who have significant experience administering oral appliance therapy and are leaders in the clinical practice of dental sleep medicine. Instructors are either a board-certified Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM), a director of an AADSM-accredited facility, or an educator in dental sleep medicine. In addition to dental sleep medicine, some faculty members have a background in other related fields such as oral surgery.

Many AADSM courses also feature lectures from physicians who discuss sleep-disordered breathing from a medical perspective, including an overview of sleep-related breathing disorders, polysomnogram reports, medical terminology, the comorbidities of untreated sleep apnea, and the development of a team approach to patient management.

“All medical lecturers are passionate about the role of dentists in the management of sleep-disordered breathing patients and represent a diverse mix of backgrounds in sleep medicine,” Smith says.

All AADSM courses are recognized by the American Dental Association (ADA) Continuing Education Recognition Program (CERP) and offer comprehensive instruction on oral appliance therapy for dentists at any level. AADSM educational offerings cover the knowledge needed to treat a medical disease, the clinical skill required to fabricate and adjust oral appliances, the fundamentals of dental sleep medicine practice management, and the essentials to effectively work with sleep physicians and medical colleagues in order to treat sleep apnea and snoring.

What available dental sleep medicine designations are industry-recognized and beneficial? Smith says board certification and facility accreditation are two dental sleep medicine designations that demonstrate that a dentist has the technical skill, acquired knowledge, experience, and judgment regarding outcomes and risks of oral appliance therapy, all of which can only be acquired through clinical experience and continuing education.

ABDSM provides Diplomate certification to dentists who complete a rigorous examination and submit a series of clinical case reports.

Similar to accreditation of a sleep center, the AADSM Dental Sleep Medicine Facility Accreditation program verifies that a practice’s entire team upholds high standards of patient care. Accreditation indicates that the office meets standardized guidelines, follows rigorous protocol and has procedures in place to address patient problems and complications of treatment. This recognition better qualifies dental practices for acceptance by medical insurance companies and helps support fair reimbursement for dental sleep medicine services.

The recently added Qualified Dentist designation provides interim recognition for those in the process of accumulating the experience, education, and cases needed to earn board certification in dental sleep medicine. Dentists earn the designation by completing 25 hours of recognized continuing education in dental sleep medicine, provided by a nonprofit organization or university, in the two years prior to the date they submit their application. The AADSM Qualified Dentist designation provides dentists entering the field a recognized, reputable way to demonstrate to patients, physicians, and payors that they support best practices in dental sleep medicine.

Asked if dentists can leverage dental sleep medicine designations to strengthen their relationships with sleep physicians, Smith concludes: “All three dental sleep medicine designations serve as a great tool for strengthening referral relationships with sleep physicians. Dental sleep medicine designations are the best way to earn more credibility in the medical community and, consequently, more patient referrals from sleep physicians.”

Peter Blais, RPSGT, is a registered sleep technologist who splits his time between Maine and Florida.