Tufts University Dental School is pioneering the Dental Sleep Medicine curriculum with pre- and postgraduate curriculums and a fellowship in Dental Sleep. Find out more about this exciting development.
by Leopoldo P. Correa, BDS, MS, D.ABDSM
Dental sleep medicine has evolved rapidly during the last few years thanks to the advancement in research related to the use and efficacy of oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances assist in maintaining the mandible forward during sleep to prevent the collapsibility of upper airway muscles. However, the resultant advancement of the lower jaw in some patients may produce discomfort or pain in the masticatory muscles, temporomandibular joint (TMJ), and head and neck areas.
Current clinical guidelines recommend that following diagnosis and referral from a physician, qualified dentists can use oral appliances among patients with mild to moderate OSA or in particular cases of severe sleep apnea in which patients are noncompliant with or unable to use positive airway pressure therapy. Clinical techniques, such as the use of morning jaw aligners and the performance of jaw exercises, have been developed to minimize occlusal symptoms during oral appliance therapy; however, these approaches require further research to confirm their validity and long-term efficacy.
When the National Institute of Medicine published “Sleep Disorders and Sleep Deprivation: An Unmet Public Health Problem,” it ushered in a new way of looking at Somnology and Sleep Medicine, prompting its inclusion in academic curriculums. Tufts University Dental School is a pioneer in incorporating the teaching of Dental Sleep Medicine into its pre- and postgraduate curriculums, developed the first fellowship program in Dental Sleep and the longest running continuing education mini-residency programs. Dentists from around the world have attended our Dental Sleep programs and we have assisted in expanding the field of Dental Sleep Medicine globally.
As dental sleep medicine continues to grow, it is essential that dentists who use oral appliances for OSA also understand the management of side effects, including occlusal symptoms, Temporomandibular Disorders, and adhere to current standards of dental sleep medicine practice. With the recent development of dental sleep medicine standards and the collaboration between academic institutions and professional associations, the practice and teaching of dental sleep medicine will continue to grow globally.
Whether attending Tufts University or just exploring dental sleep, check out this article to get you started: https://dentalsleeppractice.com/articles/starting-a-dental-sleep-medicine-practice/