Lisle, Ill. (February 2019) – As more patients turn to their dentists for help with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) is establishing rigorous educational standards for the dentists who practice dental sleep medicine.
“It is about ensuring those dentists who desire to treat patients with OSA or snoring are properly trained, so their patients are safely and effectively treated”, said David Schwartz, DDS, D.ABDSM, and President-Elect of the AADSM. His editorial explaining the organization’s position appears in the most recent issue of the Journal of Dental Sleep Medicine.
The AADSM recently launched the AADSM Mastery Program to provide standardized education to dentists who want to provide oral appliance therapy for OSA and snoring. The program consists of three levels of training comprising 65 hours of continuing education. To ensure that more dentists have access to this training, the AADSM has reached out to all U.S. dental schools, inviting them to offer an accredited AADSM Mastery Program. The AADSM recently approved the first dental school to receive this designation.
Establishing minimum standards for training protects patients and dentists as well. “The inherent risk to the patient coupled with the professional liability risk the dentist is assuming is far too great to be fooled into thinking that no additional training is needed,” said Schwartz. “High-quality care is an absolute must, and proper education and training are the only pathways to ensure quality care.”
In addition to protecting patients and dentists, the AADSM believes that standardized education based on a core curriculum is essential for the growth of the field. “I firmly believe that dentists will play an increasingly larger role in preventing medical diseases and treating illnesses such as OSA, snoring, type 2 diabetes, and hypertension. There simply are not enough physicians, but to do so, we need to demonstrate that we are competent to provide optimal care,” said Schwartz.
Establishing educational standards addresses a topic that was not covered in the recent American Dental Association (ADA) Proposed Policy on the Role of Dentistry in the Treatment of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders. That policy does not specify educational requirements for dentists to provide oral appliance therapy. It is in this context that the AADSM has taken on the responsibility of defining and providing the education necessary for dentists who want to practice dental sleep medicine at the highest level.
The full editorial is available at https://aadsm.org/journal/editorial_2_issue_61.php