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J Dent Educ. 2012 Dec;76(12):1639-45.

Is there a place for teaching obstructive sleep apnea and snoring in the predoctoral dental curriculum?

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  • 1Department of Prosthodontics, College of Dentistry, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, 875 Union Avenue, Memphis, TN 38163, USA.


The widespread prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea and apneic snoring is both alarming and well documented. Sleep disorders affect one out of five Americans. Yet, during an attempt to study the prevalence of obstructive sleep apnea and snoring among patients at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center College of Dentistry, a search through the entire school's database for the terms "sleep apnea" and "snoring" found only ninety-two patients who admitted to snoring. Currently, the condition "sleep apnea" is not even on the school's list of health/medical questions. These figures not only are inconsistent with national statistics, but confirm that more needs to be done to make dental students aware of these disorders, include them in patient medical histories, and ultimately educate patients about therapies that can help. Considering the health concerns related to this sleep disorder, the economic impact of insomnia and daytime sleepiness, as well as the fact that the dentist is well poised to reduce symptoms and increase the quality of life among sufferers, mandibular advancement devices should become an educational standard in the predoctoral clinical curriculum of dental schools. Predoctoral clinical curricula need to reflect this current health trend and train dentists to care for these patients comprehensively.

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