Tools of the trade: WatchPAT


WatchPatby Dr John Utama, Dentists@Capri, Isle of Capri, QLD

A study by Cunali has found that 75 per cent of patients diagnosed with TMD have OSA (obstructive sleep apnoea)*. Over the years I see many TMD patients at my practices, and while most patients respond well to treatment, there are a few cases that do not. With this study in mind, it is prudent to assess the quantity and quality of patients’ sleep when treating TMD patients. WatchPAT is a most useful tool to have at any practice treating TMD cases.

What’s good about it

The WatchPAT is a simpler version of a polysomnograph (PSG) that is used at sleep clinics. However, instead of an overnight stay at the clinic, it can be worn while sleeping at home.

The patient wears the device on their wrist while asleep. When completed, it is simply connected to a computer, which prints out a summary of important findings such as oxygen saturation, AHI index, Respiratory Disruption Index, REM and deep sleeps.

I am now routinely using the WatchPAT for all of my TMD patients. I feel it’s essential to rule out sleep related breathing disorders that could be affecting the patient from getting the deep sleep that’s needed for restoration and repair.

What’s not so good

The WatchPAT is not fully recognised by sleep physicians. If a WatchPAT report shows an AHI index greater than 5, which indicates a diagnosis of OSA, the patient will be referred to a sleep clinic. Invariably, the physician will order another sleep study with a PSG. The patient may have to spend a night in the sleep clinic for further investigation.

Where did you get it

ExcellCare, PO Box 219, Braeside, VIC. Phone 0413 918 755.


• Prevalence of Temporomandibular Disorders in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients Referred for Oral Appliance Therapy. P.A. Cunali et al. Journal of Orofacial Pain 2009 pgs 339-343


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  1. Very interesting John. How old is your youngest patient being treated for OSA? Have you found any relationship between clenching after finishing Ortho treatment and OSA? Thank you


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