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Jul, 17, 2020

Physicians and Dentists – Collaboration and Cooperation

By Marie Macfarlane

 

A patient-first philosophy is one sure way that physicians and dentists can permanently put aside turf wars and fruitfully collaborate. Fortunately, that’s a lot easier these days because the level of respect among the professions has increased dramatically over the last decade, particularly in the realm of sleep.

 

Friendly collaboration is no longer just a slogan, but instead a way of life among clinicians who have embraced the idea that there are plenty of patients to go around. Most statistics show that 10% to 12% of the U.S. adult population suffers from obstructive sleep apnea, and the vast majority of those are undiagnosed.

 

“The truth is that there is no need to compete for patients,” says Shad Morris, DMD, owner of Premier Sleep Solutions, St. George, Utah. “If we simply try to find the best clinical solutions, we can start to cut into the dramatic number of undiagnosed OSA sufferers.”

 

It’s true that some physicians initially resisted the idea of oral appliances, also known as mandibular advancement devices. Meanwhile, dentists complained about the often problematic compliance rates of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) devices, and bristled at the notion that CPAP could be singled out as a “gold standard” treatment for OSA.

 

Jennifer Q. Le, DMD, points out in a June 2020 issue of Sleep Review that the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) and the AASM recently authored joint statements regarding best practices, guidelines, and standards for the management of OSA.2

 

“The AADSM also outlines the didactic content of its mastery program, giving the referring physician an idea of what a ‘Qualified Dentist’ designation means,” writes Le. “The American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM) oversees the credentialing process for dentists who are qualified in the field of sleep medicine. Any physician can reference the AADSM website to locate a qualified dentist by zip code [available at aadsm.org, then navigate to “For Patients,” then “Find an AADSM dentist”]. Many physicians are unaware of this resource—as I recently confirmed in Tampa when I polled the physicians in the room.”

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