Sleep experts estimate that 80 to 90 percent of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) patients are undiagnosed and untreated. Many patients do not know they have a problem because they are unaware that they wake up throughout the night to breathe. Bed partners often detect OSA because of the loud snoring that can accompany the breathing disorder.
Because dentists see patients on a regular basis, they frequently screen patients for sleep apnea. If screening shows the patient is at risk for OSA, he or she will then go to sleep physician for a diagnosis and treatment.
A study in the journal Sleep and Breathing examined a new screening method that combined symptoms with a physical exam to predict the presence of sleep apnea. The NAMES assessment looked at neck circumference, airway classification, related diseases, Epworth scale, and snoring. By including self-reported historical factors with physical exam findings, researchers were able to better screen for OSA.
The study included 150 adult subjects. They had never been diagnosed with sleep apnea but were referred to sleep center because they showed signs of the condition. The study results indicate that the NAMES assessment is an effective, inexpensive screening strategy for screening patients for moderate to severe OSA