In any healthcare field, it is especially difficult to form appropriate treatment plans when we understand the result of a problem, but don’t actually know the cause. Believing there are rules that hold true 100% of the time in these types of uncertain cases is dangerous. Read on to learn why accepting ambiguity and doubt with sleep-related patients will actually be better for you both in the long run…
In Part 1 of this series, I explained the framework every dentist should have for dealing with sleep. My points were:
(1) You should understand and enact methods for uncovering sleep issues whether you intend to treat them or not.
(2) You should expand your knowledge of sleep disorders beyond apnea, because patients with these conditions will not respond as well to your treatment.
I’m going to clear up another area of confusion that many have about sleep, which is the prevalence of rigid thinking and its consequences. I’m also going to give you the simplest solution for determining the existence of sleep disorders.
Treating the Unknown: 100% Rules That Don’t Hold True
Just like sleep apnea isn’t the only sleep disorder, there are other supposed ‘rules’ in sleep dentistry that are not always 100% true. Grinding is an issue that affects an enormous amount of people. Many would like it to have a simple explanation because of this.
The truth is that grinding isn’t always caused by sleep difficulties and we don’t actually know what causes people to grind their teeth. Do a lot of people do it because of trying to open their airways? Yes, and the opposite is also true. But helping diagnose whether your patient has a sleep issue is important no matter what.
An Extremely Fast Sleep Diagnosis Method
The easiest way to diagnose a sleep disorder is with the Epworth sleepiness scale. It’s a self-assessment, so patients rate themselves. If they score over a 10 they have a sleep issue and they should talk to a physician about it.
In less than a minute of the patient’s time, you can help them figure out if they need more information because they’re having problems with their sleep. It’s a basic tool you can implement in your current exam protocol.
In the end, sleep disorders are a critical piece of a patient’s medical history. To avoid testing for them is a risk that can only be detrimental to your effectiveness.
What is your take on sleep dentistry? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!