An increase in sleep apnea awareness, among other factors, is leading patients to their dentists for custom-made appliances that are favorable compared with traditional CPAP devices.
Dr. Martha Cortés, DDS credited sleep apnea oral appliances with leading to "health benefits such as restorative sleep, sustained daytime energy, mental clarity, and balanced emotions".
The global demand for sleep apnea oral appliances is forecasted to double in the next five years from 233.2 million USD to roughly 482 million by 2023, according to a financial report released by Researchandmarkets.com.
The striking rise in the market can be attributed to several factors, including a rise in awareness of sleep apnea, more sophisticated oral appliances, undiagnosed sleep apnea and an increase in the popularity of sleep apnea oral appliance over traditional methods of treatment. Possible restrictions to forecasted growth are complicated referral pathways and limited access to sleep centers due to long waiting periods. Dentists trained to fabricate sleep apnea appliances can help their patients bypass these complications if dental intervention is sufficient in treating their sleep apnea.
Dr. Martha Cortés, DDS of Cortés Advanced Dentistry in New York, is a dental-sleep medicine expert dedicated to solving patients’ sleeping problems through various oral appliances. When asked about the increase market demand, Cortés explained the change came after the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) approved the use of dental appliances as the “first line of treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea”. Professionally fabricated appliances “are also a therapeutic alternative to continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) mask therapy due to non-compliance”, she added, since cumbersome devices are frequently abandoned due to low patient tolerance.
The benefits of sleep appliances don’t stop there. Other “co-occurring conditions linked to abnormal breathing”, like bruxism, are “not caused by stress, but rather, a breathing obstruction” Cortés remarked “Many patients are shocked to learn that a dental device may treat the condition.”
To top it off, patients are typically satisfied after delivery of their custom appliances. Added to the benefits of replacing a bulky CPAP machine, Cortés said patients “experience health benefits such as restorative sleep, sustained daytime energy, mental clarity, and balanced emotions” — a relief for patients formerly plagued by sleep problems.
The financial benefits to patients and providers are clear. Patients suffering from sleep apnea are at an increased risk of “metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, glucose intolerance, high cholesterol, central obesity, and neurocognitive decline”, Cortés warned adding “sleep apnea appliances literally save lives.” The dental provider’s ability to improve patients’ overall health can reinforce their role as an integral link in the healthcare team and will increase patient satisfaction and loyalty to the practice.
The types of sleep apnea appliances available on the market vary between physician-prescribed and over the counter appliances for purchase online, but the largest growth is expected to come from custom-made mandibular advancement devices (MAD). Other custom devices, like tongue-retained devices (TRD) are not as popular since their efficacy is considerably less than that of MAD’s.
Offering patients sleep apnea appliances from their regular dental office can give providers an advantage over their competition. With the market on oral appliances predicted to grow, the ability to recommend and prescribe the devices to existing and future patients can help boost a practice’s production while simultaneously giving patients a reason to keep returning.
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