Dr. Kent Smith, a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, testified before the US House of Representatives regarding alternative treatments for people who suffer from sleep-related issues, such as sleep apnea and other problems like snoring and general fatigue.
According to the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 50-70 million Americans suffer from a sleep-related disorder. The most commonly diagnosed disorder is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).
When left undiagnosed or ineffectively treated, sleep issues contribute to the development of a number of serious health concerns. Additionally, persistent fatigue can inhibit cognitive abilities and reaction times vital for everyday activities such as driving. Ill-managed sleep issues are often a major contributing factor in the deaths of sufferers, such as was the case with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia and NFL defensive lineman Reggie White who both suffered from sleep apnea.
Dr. Smith testified to create awareness about:
- The public health concerns presented by sleep disorders, such as the 80,000+ motor vehicle crashes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates are caused by drowsy driving annually.
- The availability of treatment options, including alternatives to the CPAP machine.
Diverse Treatment Options Available
For those Americans who have been formally diagnosed with a sleep apnea or other disorder, the most commonly prescribed treatment is the CPAP machine. Unfortunately, many users find the machine bulky and uncomfortable, or simply inconvenient to wear. Due to these complaints, some users neglect the prescribed method or frequency of use, thus rendering its treatment ineffective.
Fortunately, highly effective alternative treatments, such as oral devices and orthodontic treatment options, are available through sleep dentists who are highly-trained in the specialty. The main obstacle to patients receiving these treatments is simply a lack of knowledge amongst general medicine and primary care physicians. Dr. Smith is attempting to change this by bolstering awareness of these groundbreaking treatments.