I remember when I was in dental school and all I wanted was to finish and get out and practice dentistry. School was a means to an end, it’s what you had to go through to prepare yourself to go out and apply all of that knowledge in the real world.  To finally be done with school and education, to be free in the world. And what was my experience? It was that school prepared you to become a learner for life, a life time student, to grow and expand your knowledge and skills.  If you aren’t professionally growing you’re standing still, and if your standing still you are falling behind. Such is the life of a doctor and the student for life.


My current area of study and professional development is in the field of dental sleep medicine. Dental sleep medicine is  the provision of a dental service, oral appliance therapy, for the treatment of a medical condition, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The dental service is fabrication of an oral appliance for the treatment of OSA and it involves much more than the simple fabrication of the appliance. It comes with the knowledge and skill of providing the proper appliance and the provision of all necessary follow up care to ensure the best possible treatment outcome. This treatment is provided in coordinated care with the patient’s sleep doctor and primary care physician. OSA is a medical condition that has serious health and quality of life consequences and often goes undiagnosed and untreated. Treatment of OSA can not only improve the quality of life, it can actually save your life.

This year I am attending and participating in the Dental Sleep Medicine Mini-Residency Program being offered by the American Academy of Cranio-facial Pain and Tufts University School of Dentistry in Boston, Massachusetts. This is an intensive and extensive program being taught by the leading authorities in the field of sleep medicine and dental sleep medicine. Participation in this program will improve my knowledge and skill set in providing this treatment for my patients and is also a part of my preparation for getting Diplomate status credentialing presented by the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM), as recognized by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM). The examination presented by the ABDSM is the only credential recognized by the AASM. The ABDSM examination is recognized as the gold standard for dental sleep medicine and gold standard treatment is what patients expect and deserve.


The course and training involves travel to Tufts University School of Dentistry in Boston. At the last class I attended in January, the weather was -8, so it was one of the rare times that I didn’t mind sitting in class for 10 hours.


You’re never too old to learn and you’re never to smart to to stop learning. It’s motivating and inspiring to attend and participate a program like the Dental Sleep Medicine Mini-Residency and to be in the company of other dental providers that share the same interest and commitment to providing the highest quality of care in dental sleep medicine.


Contact my office if you or a family member/friend have been diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea and would like information or to discuss oral appliance therapy as an alternative to CPAP treatment. I look forward to hearing from you.

Donald R. Dexter, Jr., DMD