When you have a sleep-disordered breathing issue, it’s important to get the proper help by an experienced provider. How do you find such an Oral Physician? Ask the right questions—I’ve listed some key ones here. The more of these your provider can answer, the better your chances of getting relief.
How long have you been treating obstructive sleep apnea?
It takes years of study and years of experience to understand the connection between oral health and sleep-disordered breathing. The more years the provider has making that connection, the better your chances of getting the right solution for your sleep-disordered breathing. The provider should also be trained and have experience in temporomandibular disorders, functional orthopedics, occlusion (how the upper and lower jaws fit together), and orthodontics.
Are you trained on the latest technology?
Technologies to treat sleep-disordered breathing improve year to year. It is important for providers to stay up-to-date on the latest research and developments on treatment. Membership in sleep associations such as the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, American Sleep and Breathing Academy, and the International Academy of Sleep can help you see whether your provider has resources to help him or her stay current on the latest treatments.
What is your protocol?
What else does the provider do to treat your issues besides prescribing the same appliance everyone else is wearing? The current Julian Protocol deals with temporomandibular joint disorder, sleep-disordered breathing/sleep apnea, and occlusal imbalances (crooked teeth). We start by building a strong foundation—ensuring you have a stable bite and able to breathe properly. That assures greater success during the restorative phase, which is when the function of the teeth is addressed. The overall result is greater jaw function, better aesthetics, and longer-term stability.
What is your approach to care?
Look for a provider who offers a consultative approach to care. By finding someone you feel listens to you and addresses your concerns, you’re more likely to get a solution customized to your needs, not just the same cookie-cutter solution provided to everyone.
How do you decide the best appliance for me?
Comprehensive testing is the best way to determine which appliance is best for your needs. But does that involve only a visual inspection of your mouth? Or does it start with an extensive evaluation and then employ the latest technologies—for instance, to give you a 3-D view of your entire airway? Look for a provider that performs adequate and appropriate testing to ensure you are getting the right treatment for your needs.
How comprehensive and integrated is the treatment offered?
The best oral health takes a holistic approach. That means treatment ensures that every aspect of the body, mind, and spirit are addressed using modalities such as cranio-sacral therapy, chiropractic, nutritional counseling, stress management, and mind-body healing. The provider should also offer more than just one appliance to ensure you have a customized solution.
What is your success rate?
Ask the oral physician to share with you some successes using the same protocols you are likely to need. Also consider looking for online reviews: What are others saying about the oral physician?
By doing a little bit of homework, you can assure you’re getting an oral physician with the training, technology, and experience to help your treatment succeed.