The Dental Hygienists Role in Screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and an impaired airway often results from orofacial myofunctional disorders. The signs of OSA often present in the oral cavity, and early intervention of OSA can be life changing. Intervention helps reduce the risk of adverse health consequences and patient mortality. As health professionals, Dental Hygienists are in a prime position to identify signs of OSA and make referrals to physicians for early diagnosis and prompt treatment. This module will provide an overview of the symptoms and risks of OSA, as well as guidance on the steps that Dental Hygienists can take to identify OSA and associated conditions.

Learning Objectives

Upon completion of this activity, the participant should be able to:

  • Relate the intraoral and extraoral signs indicating sleep disordered breathing to the dental hygiene clinical examination.
  • Understand the influence of growth and development on airway and sleep.
  • Understand the dental hygienist’s role in identification and intervention of sleep disordered breathing and obstructive sleep apnea.
  • Apply screening practices into clinical practice


Janice Schmitz, CDA, RDH, DHSc is a Certified Dental Assistant and Registered Dental Hygienist. She completed her A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene at the Community College of Rhode Island in 2001. She is a graduate of the University of Bridgeport, Fones School of Dental Hygiene, earning a B.S. in Dental Hygiene in 2012, a M.S. in Dental Hygiene in 2015, and a Doctorate in Health Sciences in 2021. Her doctoral dissertation research focused on obstructive sleep apnea and orofacial myofunctional disorders, their impact on the intra/extraoral clinical examination, and the role of the dental professional. She has practiced dental hygiene for more than 20 years, working in general and prosthetic dentistry.

Registration Fee: Free for MCPHS alumni and full-time staff; $12.00 for all other professionals.

Release Date:
January 31, 2023
Expiration Date: January 31, 2024
Contact Hours: 1.5 

After registering or logging into, you can view CE modules in our library.

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Forsyth School of Dental Hygiene is accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation, American Dental Association. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences designates this activity for a total of 1.5 contact hours.

This module qualifies as credit when reporting to the MA Board. Please check with your state licensing board to ensure eligibility for credit if you are licensed in a state other than Massachusetts.
To receive credit, participants must complete pre and post-assessments, view the entire presentation, and evaluate the session. Following the assessment and evaluation process, a certificate documenting completion is generated and can be retrieved under "View Account History" by choosing the activity title.
The policy of Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences is ensuring balance, independence, objectivity, and scientific rigor in all of its educational activities. Any individuals involved in planning or content creation for a continuing education activity are required to disclose financial relationships with ineligible companies that have occurred within the last 24 months. The intent of the policy is to identify and mitigate potential conflicts of interest that may affect the activity. All clinical medicine recommendations must be based on evidence accepted within the medical profession.

Janice Schmitz holds no financial interests with ineligible companies.

Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Continuing Education staff members hold no financial relationships with ineligible companies related to the content of this presentation.