Cynthia Brattesani, DDS, has built her practice on exploring new technology and treatment options, including dental sleep medicine, but she has no plans to abandon general dentistry.

The foundation of Dr Cynthia K. Brattesani’s San Francisco practice is her deeply held belief that dentistry is the vehicle by which she is able to help people live longer, healthier, more confident lives. In an interview with Sleep Review, she continually brought the conversation back to the philosophical underpinnings behind this belief and emphasized how it is this philosophy of bringing beneficence to her patients—in combination with her love of technology—that led her to the practice of dental sleep medicine.

“When you are reconstructing someone, you’re doing it for their health, their confidence, their wellbeing,” she says. “So if sleep is an issue, we need to do that too. It’s a complement to what I do. It’s not an either/or. But I love it because I’m talking about the overall health of the mouth. I can empower this person to live happily and healthier.”

Brattesani has always been quick to embrace new technologies if she believed they would someday make a difference in the way she served her patients. When air abrasion technology, CAD/CAM machines for crown production, computerized anesthetic delivery systems, and even email confirmation systems came to market, she was quick to integrate these technologies into her practice, despite occasional expressions of skepticism from colleagues.

Cynthia K. Brattesani, DDS

Cynthia K. Brattesani, DDS

She also was an early adopter of i-CAT 3D imaging, which served as her gateway to dental sleep medicine. The cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) allowed Brattesani to see the sinus, temporomandibular joint, and the bones of her patients and to make diagnostic or treatment decisions she might not have been able to make otherwise. By adding CBCT imaging equipment in-house, she says, she was able to remove a step toward—and potential barrier to—a patient getting a dental implant.

But there was an unexpected benefit as well. For the first time, she was also able to see the airway, the area of greatest concern when it comes to the appearance of most cases of sleep-disordered breathing.

The progression into sleep medicine was the logical next step. Brattesani had available to her a powerful tool she could use to help educate her patients and set them on a course toward experiencing better sleep and healthier lives. It was only natural that she began to ask “Is there a sleep issue here?” and to integrate this question into her diagnostic repertoire.

Like most dental sleep clinicians, Brattesani had to consider the possibility of changing disciplines to focus exclusively on the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. But as she recalls, maintaining her general dentistry practice was not a difficult decision.

“I love dentistry. I incorporate sleep where I can with the full knowledge that, if I did it well, I would not have time to do dentistry. That’s how frequently the discussion comes about. So I found a good dental sleep doctor for patients I can’t see or are complicated,” she says.

Brattesani’s practice has evolved dramatically since she opened her own office 15 years ago, after 13 years practicing alongside her older brother, Steven J. Brattesani, DDS. The San Francisco natives both attended dental schools in the city—Cynthia matriculated at the University of California, San Francisco, and Stephen at the University of the Pacific —and dental sleep medicine was “not even on the radar” at the time. As she points out, for dentists, the educational process never stops.

“I learned about implants in an introductory course 28 years ago,” she says. “Look at it now!”

She has maintained a steadfast focus on the wellbeing of her patients and has kept an open mind when it comes to the adoption of new technologies that promised to enhance her ability to improve the services she provides her patients. In applying these tenets of her personal and professional philosophy, she was led to the serendipitous marriage of general dentistry and sleep medicine.

The move has paid off in spades for Brattesani’s practice, her team of 11 (dentists, dental hygienists, and assistants), and, of course, her loyal patients.

“They enjoy that I’m able to give them an insight. They thank me for that and I love that,” she says. “It makes you feel good at the end of the day when you close the lights and lock the door, you did a good thing for the patient.”

Tariq Kamal is a media consultant with Acumen Media.