During sleep, gravity and muscle relaxation allows the tongue and surrounding soft tissues to fall back into the throat area obstructing air flow. The diagnosis of sleep apnea may be estimated by taking a thorough sleep and medical history; however, it requires objective testing during sleep to confirm and quantify. Properly trained dentists were acknowledged by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), as being able to provide first line therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea. Identifying the CPAP non-compliant group and offering OAT co-therapy with physicians is uniquely possible for dentists. Increased public awareness of sleep disorders has resulted in increased public demand for more patient-friendly, non-surgical treatment options besides CPAP.

However, it also includes any associated daytime sleepiness and sense of poor restfulness even with adequate time spent sleeping. While the current gold standard for testing is an overnight, observed, laboratory sleep study in a sleep lab called a Polysomnogram (PSG), the trend towards more cost-effective and readily available testing has stimulated growth of home sleep testing.
They may also identify sleep disorders by observing a SRBD behavior such as "snorers in dental chair" where patients fall asleep within a short time at dental appointments. An example includes the excessively sleepy individual who takes naps daily, drinks massive amounts of coffee and energy drinks, and despite 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night continues to experience excessive drowsiness and a lack of energy. Sufferers frequently have significant brain damage and require an extensive, careful work up and management along with the use of breathing equipment called Continuous Positive Airway Pressure or CPAP for short.

There are also mixed apnea patients who have both obstructive and central apnea events during their sleep cycle. Properly trained dentists have been acknowledged by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM), as being able to provide first line therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate sleep apnea. OAT has been shown to be slightly less effective than CPAP therapy, but cross over trials comparing both treatments have validated significant patient preference and increased long-term use by patients using OAT.

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