May 1, 2012
by Dennis Marangos, BSc., DDS, DABCP, FAACP
Congratulations to the editorial staff at Oral Health for putting together an issue devoted to serious medical conditions/problems that have dental solutions. I wish to especially thank Dr. Janice Goodman for her foresight in bringing these issues to the attention of the dental profession.
I have had the opportunity to lecture to medical doctors on the topics of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and chronic pain and it is surprising how many of our medical colleagues do not make the dental connection. I constantly remind our colleagues that we are more than “tooth mechanics.” Every article in this issue points this out…we are more than just teeth. As dentists we are fortunate that we see our patients on regular intervals, every three, six, or nine months. We can be the first to identify the patients at risk, especially the children. Reflect back on how many times parents have told us that their kids grind their teeth at night and snore. Years ago we never made the connection. We now know that the two are related and could be life threatening. Very recently in the journal Sleep Breath (2012) an article by Brockman et al concluded that “primary snoring in children can lead to significant neurocognitive impairments.” This should put every general and pediatric dentist on edge just thinking about what we missed over the years. We have also taken pride in providing a relaxing environment for our patients, especially when we see those that fall asleep in our chair during our procedures. As we re-think this now, could this be a risk factor for OSA that we have over looked for years? This is just touching on the problems we as dentists can identify and treat (with proper training) or at least refer to our dentist colleagues with the appropriate training.
Dr. Goodman has put together a journal issue that should make many of us uneasy about what we thought we knew (flat plan appliances and the effect on airway!!!). It should encourage us to learn more about the areas of chronic pain, dental sleep medicine and how it relates to our daily practices. Dentistry as we knew it is changing, we have to change with the times.