ADA Adopts Policy on Dentistry’s Role in Treating Obstructive Sleep Apnea, Similar Disorders

House of Delegates adopts official policy statement at ADA 2017 – America’s Dental Meeting

October 23, 2017

CHICAGO, October 23, 2017 — The House of Delegates approved an American Dental Association (ADA) policy statement addressing dentistry’s role in sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD), developed as a result of a 2015 resolution calling for the action.

The adopted policy emphasizes that “dentists are the only health care provider with the knowledge and expertise to provide oral appliance therapy (OAT).”

SRBDs are a set of potentially serious medical conditions – snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and others – characterized by disruptions in normal breathing patterns. Metabolic, cardiovascular, respiratory, dental and other diseases have been associated with OSA.

The adopted policy statement outlines the role of dentists in treating SRBD. Key components include assessing a patient’s risk for SRBD as part of a comprehensive medical and dental history and referring affected patients to appropriate physicians; evaluating the appropriateness of OAT as prescribed by a physician and providing OAT for mild and moderate sleep apnea when a patient does not tolerate a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device; recognizing and managing OAT side effects; continually updating dental sleep medicine knowledge and training; and communicating patients’ treatment progress with the referring physician and other healthcare providers.