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New sleep medicine conference offered at ADA FDI World Dental Congress

April 02, 2019

By David Burger

FDI ADASan Francisco — With the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine estimating that about 30 million adults in the U.S. have obstructive sleep apnea, this September’s ADA FDI World Dental Congress will shine a spotlight on what presenters are calling a hot topic.

“On a day-to-day basis, we’re the first ones to encounter sleep disordered breathing in our patients,” said Dr. Roger Macias, general chair of the ADA Advisory Committee on Annual Meetings. Overall health and oral health go hand-in-hand, he added.
Dr. Macias
Dr. Macias

The ADA Dental Sleep Medicine Conference, in collaboration with the ADA Council on Dental Practice, is set for Sept. 4-5, with 14 hours of continuing education credit offered.

Over two days in San Francisco, participants will hear leading experts in dental sleep medicine explain each point in the ADA policy statement on sleep-related breathing disorders while supporting practical wisdom and the latest in medical science, professional guidelines and protocols, said Dr. Steve Carstensen, the Washington state-based co-founder of Premier Sleep Associates, a dental practice dedicated to treating obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. A presenter at the conference, he has been intimately involved with organizing the two airway conferences the ADA has hosted over the last year.

In 2017, the ADA House of Delegates approved a policy statement addressing dentistry's role in sleep-related breathing disorders. The adopted policy emphasizes that "dentists are the only health care provider with the knowledge and expertise to provide oral appliance therapy." The adopted policy statement outlines dentists’ role in treating the disorder. The entire policy can be found online at by searching for "The Role of Dentistry in the Treatment of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders.”
Dr. Macias
Dr. Carstensen

One of the speakers, Glennine Varga, a sleep medicine coach and expert, believes that dentists and dental teams need to be trained in identifying and managing sleep disorders and should collaborate with physicians on the best treatment plan.

“My feelings mirror the ADA’s in that all dental offices should be involved in screening for airway issues in both children and adults and work together with physicians to diagnose and treat patients with compromised airway structures,” she said. “Every dentist and dental team member should be screening for airway issues in a comprehensive dental examination and should be identifying risk factors with signs and symptoms of compromised breathing during sleep.”

The Arkansas-based Dr. Ken Berley has practiced dentistry for over 35 years and has concentrated on the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea for the last 10 years.  Dr. Berley is also a licensed attorney with over 22 years of legal experience and a member of the bar in Arkansas and Texas. He plans on discussing the legal ramifications of the ADA policy statement at the conference.
Dr. Macias
Dr. Berley

Dr. Berley said, “The field of dental sleep medicine is unique in that dentists are providing a treatment for a serious medical condition for which dentists are not providing the diagnosis. In dental sleep medicine, dentists must learn to develop referral-based practices where we work closely with our physician colleagues to achieve the best care of our patients.”

Key components of the 2017 policy include assessing a patient's risk for the disorder as part of a comprehensive medical and dental history and referring affected patients to appropriate physicians. In children, the dentist's recognition of suboptimal early craniofacial growth and development or other risk factors may lead to medical referral or orthodontic/orthopedic intervention to treat and/or prevent the disorders. The policy also covers evaluating the appropriateness of oral appliance therapy as prescribed by a physician; recognizing and managing appliance side effects; continually updating dental sleep medicine knowledge and training; and communicating patients' treatment progress with the referring physician and other health care providers.

The ADA FDI World Dental Congress will be held Sept. 4-8 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. Register for the congress and the ADA Dental Sleep Medicine Conference at