“There’s a problem with access. We wanted to address that,’’ said Sowmya Ananthan, a faculty member who treats patients at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine’s Center for Temporomandibular Disorders and Orofacial Pain. She has also been involved in clinical research on obstructive sleep apnea. “Increasing accessibility will transform sleep apnea in New Jersey. As far as I know, no one outside of Rutgers offers this type of option.”
At Rutgers School of Dental Medicine, patients can be fitted with a mandibular advancement device (MAD), similar to a retainer, which pulls the lower jaw forward so that the airway is cleared. As long as they have healthy teeth and jaws, the device should be appropriate for them.
Dentists can often detect symptoms of sleep apnea, such as teeth grinding, or a larger than usual tongue, which can block air passages in the mouth. When Rutgers School of Dental Medicine providers suspect patients have the condition, they can refer them to the Rutgers New Jersey Medical School’s sleep laboratory for a diagnosis. If they have sleep apnea, and their oral cavity and jaw are healthy enough to support a MAD, they can have one custom-made at Rutgers School of Dental Medicine.