Dentists: Why Treat Sleep Apnea?

As a dentist have you ever thought about treating sleep apnea in your dental office? While it may seem like a long shot, dental sleep medicine continues to grow in importance each year because of a dentist’s unique ability to notice oral symptoms. Many patients who do not respond to traditional treatment will often benefit from oral appliances that are provided by dentists.

The Expertise

It is estimated that more than 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea. This happens when a person’s airway gets blocked while they are sleeping. Often, this will happen because a person is overweight and additional tissue thickens the wall of the windpipe, making it more difficult to keep open. And, sometimes it is because the throat muscles relax more than normal.  A long, bony neck can also make for a narrower airway, which leads to sleep apnea as well.

The most common treatment option is the use of a CPAP machine. However, many patients are non-compliant to this form of treatment and do not want to undergo surgery. When this occurs, their best option may be oral appliance therapy, which is provided by a dentist. By wearing an oral appliance, it opens the airway by pushing the lower jaw forward and is more comfortable than a CPAP machine.

The Opportunity to Complete Continuing Education

As a dentist you can easily learn more about treating sleep apnea through advanced education courses and lectures. For instance, as a dental sleep medicine expert, Dr. Mayoor Patel participates in numerous lectures a year to further improve dental practices and their treatment options.

While many dentists can treat sleep apnea, it is important to receive the best education and experience in order to properly treat your patients. Dentists see their patients twice a year and are given the unique opportunity to properly screen patients and recommend treatment long before they may ever visit their regular physician.

With the unique opportunity to diagnose and treat sleep apnea, as a dentist you should consider continuing your learning and expanding your practice. To read more about this “unique opportunity,” you can read an article by Dr. Patel on Sleep Review.

Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel for more information about continuing your education in Dental Sleep Medicine and understanding how you, a dentist, should look into treating sleep apnea in your dental practice.

Join Forces with Physicians

When it comes to Dental Sleep Medicine, you want to be the dentist that physicians refer patients to. Become an active member of your community and introduce yourself to physicians in your local community, especially your local sleep specialist.

By introducing yourself you are marketing yourself and your practice so that your local sleep physician is aware of the services you provide. This also helps in building a strong relationship for proper diagnosis and treatment planning for your patients.

Get Patients Diagnosed

Referrals to provide oral appliance therapy are essential in maintaining your Dental Sleep Medicine practice, but it is also important to get your patients diagnosed. With a close relationship with your local sleep physician, you can easily refer your patients to them for diagnosis. By establishing a solid relationship, you are letting them know that you are screening your dental patients for sleep apnea and will be referring patients to them for evaluation and diagnosis.

Eliminate Unnecessary Repeat Tests

Additionally, joining forces with your local physician helps you to eliminate unnecessary repeat sleep studies. Once an oral appliance is placed, a follow-up sleep study is recommended to determine the success of the therapy. If you have a close relationship with a local sleep laboratory, you can also discuss the devices you use on your patients with the lab. By doing this you can further help your patients during treatment.

I encourage you to contact me today for tips and information on how to introduce yourself to the healthcare community so that they are aware of these unique services that you offer your patients.

Educate Your Dental Team

In America alone, over 18 million people suffer from sleep apnea. And the worst part is that many of these people are not diagnosed and do not seek treatment. By pursuing a dental sleep medicine education, you are taking the first step in helping your patients with not only their oral health care, but overall health as well. Once you have completed your training, it is important to get your dental team on board, too.

By incorporating dental sleep medicine into your practice, you can help the millions of Americans suffering from sleep apnea that many not even realize it. By educating your dental team, you can successfully implement Dental Sleep Medicine into your practice.

Attend a Seminar

There are many seminars available that with provide both you and your dental team with the information you need to properly implement dental sleep medicine. It is important to find a seminar or lecture series that is accredited and provides you with the right information for you and your team. Nierman Practice Management is a great company that helps dentists and their teams successfully implement dental sleep medicine.

Currently, Dr. Mayoor Patel is scheduled to lecture at Nierman and Education Training’s 2-day seminar for dentists and their teams in collaboration with The Atlanta School of Sleep Medicine & Technology. Find out more about Sleep Medicine for the Dentist and join us October 24-25 to learn how your practice can make a lasting impression with patients and physicians.

Schedule a Consultation with Dr. Patel

To further help you and your dental team with the implementation of Dental Sleep Medicine into your office, I offer consulting services. Through these services I can help you and your practice with the implementation of Dental Sleep Medicine and/or TMD.

Through consulting, Dr. Patel will help you and your team focus on the following information:

  • Systems to identify and diagnose patients
  • Ways to develop a network of referrals
  • Implementation of collateral marketing and educational material
  • Creating a well rounded team
  • Billing for the office and insurance

 
To help you introduce Dental Sleep Medicine into your office, please contact me for more information on how to properly implement this dental specialty into your office.

Educate Your Patients

While it is extremely important to educate yourself and your dental staff on dental sleep medicine and TMD, it is even more important to make sure you are educating your patients. A patient that is “in the know” with important information will be able to properly care for themselves and reach out to your office when a problem arises.

What is Patient Education?

Patient education is when you provide your patients with verbal or written material on a specific topic or area of interest. For your dental office, you would be providing your patients with valuable information on sleep apnea, TMD, craniofacial pain or other areas of Dental Sleep Medicine. These materials are used to help improve patient understanding and prevent complications.

Your educational material should offer patients an increased understanding of dental sleep medicine, the process and instructions about activities and treatments to help assist the patient.  Providing educational material for your dental office can result in improved long-term outcomes, which ultimately lead to better coping and decision-making skills.

The Benefits for Patients

An informed and educated patient can actively participate in his or her own treatment at your dental office. They can also improve outcomes, and help to identify problems before they occur. Some other benefits of educating your patients include:

  • Increasing your patient’s ability to cope with and manage their health.
  • Empowering patients to make important decisions in relation to their care.
  • Helping patients learn how to improve their health.
  • Increasing patient confidence in his or her care.
  • Decreasing treatment complications.

 
How Can Your Office Benefit?

While your patients will greatly benefit from education, your dental office can also benefit greatly. By providing targeted and appropriate patient education, your office can experience the following benefits:

  • Increased patient satisfaction
  • Compliance with regulatory standards
  • Improved efficiency through cost-effective care

 
Knowledge is power, which means patient education is powerful for the patient and your office. To learn more about incorporating Dental Sleep Medicine into your practice and providing education to your patients, Dr. Mayoor Patel offers Consulting services to help each step of the way. Contact Dr. Patel today for more information.