Tufts University, Boston, has developed the first university-level Dental Sleep Medicine Program in the United States, according to information released by the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. Starting fall 2009, the Craniofacial Pain, Headache and Sleep Center, part of the Department of General Dentistry at Tufts Dental School, offers the new Dental Sleep Medicine (DSM) Program to post-graduate dental students.

The program includes a course that will provide classroom and clinical instruction to post-graduate students. Post-graduate students and residents can participate in patient assessment, polysomnogram interpretation, and the use of ambulatory sleep study monitors when titrating oral appliances. The students can also be trained in selecting, fitting, and adjusting the oral appliances used to treat OSA as well as the potential limitations and complications of these devices.

“Dental sleep medicine is a rapidly expanding field where the dentist has an immediate and direct effect on the overall health of the patient. In the future, dentists trained in DSM will be integrated into the expertise available at sleep centers and sleep medicine programs because these dentists are most qualified to offer patients the oral appliances that can help treat obstructive sleep apnea,” said Noshir Mehta, DMD, MDS, director of the Craniofacial Pain, Headache and Sleep Center at Tufts.

The American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) acknowledged Tufts University School of Dental Medicine for its development of the flagship Dental Sleep Medicine Program.

“I applaud the educators at Tufts School of Dental Medicine for the implementation of their Dental Sleep Medicine Program and hope that many dental schools will follow their lead,” said AADSM president Jeffrey Pancer, DDS. “Experts estimate that 80% to 90% of adults with OSA remain undiagnosed and untreated, so the education and training of dental students in DSM will greatly benefit OSA patients who are seeking an alternative therapy to Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP).”

Tufts has already turned out pre-graduate dental students who have decided to help treat OSA patients by incorporating dental sleep medicine into their practices.

“Tufts’ pre-graduate dental students have had DSM course content for several years,” said Leopoldo P. Correa, BDS, course director of the Dental Sleep Medicine Section at Tufts Dental School. “Some of our students choose to incorporate DSM into their practices upon graduation while other students leave Tufts with a better idea of how to identify patients who may have OSA and who should get tested at a sleep center. By offering a post-graduate course, in addition to the course content in our pre-graduate and continuing education programs, more students will gain the skills and in-depth experience they need to integrate DSM into their practices.”