Why is Sleep Important From a Dental Assistant’s Perspective

Here is one thing we are sure of, it’s not about sleeping...it’s about breathing.

Ok so now that we know this, how can a dental assistant become the Sleep Champion for their dental practice?

The teeth and face can tell you so much about the quality of sleep your patients are getting. Turns out it’s not only about quantity, it’s also about quality.As a dental assistant, you can facilitate awareness and education to truly help your patients connect the signs to the symptoms.

My dentist started her airway journey well over 10 years ago. I however didn’t fully jump on board until three years ago. Oh and you’re asking where did I start? It was with myself. I started reading as much literature that was available, following the leaders in the industry focusing on the airway health epidemic and taking a step back to evaluate my personal medical history.

It Wasn't Long Before...

It wasn’t long before I started connecting the signs and realizing that I suffered from Sleep Disordered Breathing as a child.

  • Chronic throat infections
  • Recurring ear infections
  • Dental malocclusion
  • Nocturnal enuresis
  • ADHD like symptoms
  • Venous pooling
  • Rampant primary tooth decay
  • Retrognathic mandible
  • Vaulted palate
  • Ankyloglossia

And so many more symptoms that continued into adulthood.

I never had a medical provider attempt to treat the cause of the poor development afflictions…

 instead, each doctor stayed in their lane and only addressed the symptoms. It was a lifetime of bandaids. Once I worked-up to understand just how much of an impact I could have to truly help my patients there was no stopping my desire to learn.

My Role As A Dental Assistant

As the office sleep champion, it is my responsibility to educate patients. Education is fundamental in addressing airway health. I help them see the signs that my doctor has noted, educate them on oral facial posture, sleep hygiene, diet and exercise, disease prevention and the effects of chronic inflammation caused by an airway disorder. The most common result in my patients is that they have no idea how poor their sleep quality was until they start to improve their sleep. 

The numbers don’t lie. The first step after annotating the oral signs, reviewing the medical history, and reviewing the airway questionnaires is to send our patients home with the Home Sleep Test (HST). This is the starting point to create a baseline to truly help the patients understand what is happening while they sleep and gives us the opportunity to facilitate better overall health. 

Now that we have covered how important education is for our patients, maybe you can see where the dental assistant comes into this equation. Our dentists are busy all day everyday in most cases. Our job is to communicate with our patients while our dentists are working in other areas of the practice. As a team, we can accomplish anything.

Start with yourself, a loved one, or a family friend and see for yourself how much you can learn and help. Be the sleep champion and truly help the patients connected to the teeth!