The Impact of Millennials on the Future of Dentistry

As you know, the playing field in dentistry is always changing. More recently, though, we have a new group of millennials that are entering the dental field, which is creating a lot of changes. Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000, standing at 96 million people–the largest population in U.S. history. Then we have Baby Boomers at 77 million and Generation Xers at 61 million. What sets them apart is that Millennials demand instant access, efficiency and superior customer service.

Millennials have entered the dental world disappointed in how things were run and the technology available. To them, the dental system is outdated, inefficient and ill-equipped to handle their needs and their patients.

An Upgrade in Technology

Because millennials are so used to being able to quickly order products and services from their smartphone or tablet with next-day delivery, they want their patients to have the same. And this isn’t a bad thing at all. Waiting days to see the dentist with only a small set of office hours in an area riddled with dental practices, millennials are drawn to Internet searches.

No one wants to wait weeks to see a dentist. In this instant gratification generation, millennials want an appointment and they want it now. With the need for easy access to dentists, it is time for you to take advantage of the technology in front of you.

The Future of Dentistry

Millennials are leading the way for the future design of dental practices and the ways we reach our patients. There is a demand to meet the needs of a sophisticated group that wants instant gratification and easy access to the care and information they need. We need to cater to their needs of convenience and preventive health.

Where do millennials turn to for help? Google. Where do they shop for products delivered next day? Amazon. They want the information they are looking for and they want it now. This is why we need to continue to pave a path toward improved technology and advancements so we can keep up with their constant demand.

So what should we do? Keep providing the tools necessary for our patients. Take advantage of marketing, websites and even apps to help maintain instant access to your dental practice.

Complete Continuing Education at ADA 2017

The American Dental Association (ADA) has now opened registration for ADA 2017! This is a great event that takes place every year for dentists and their team members to stay abreast of the latest changes in dentistry. It even offers dentists a chance to complete continuing education to continue to advance their practices—it’s a win-win for everyone. And, this year, I will be joining ADA 2017 as a panel speaker on dental sleep medicine!

About ADA 2017

ADA 2017—America’s Dental Meeting at the Georgia World Congress Center will be taking place in Atlanta from October 19-23! Dentists from all over the country will be joining ADA 2017 to learn more about dentistry, advanced education and other topics. There will also be a block party, and a special appearance from Peyton Manning, an all around humanitarian dedicated to various foundations. Be sure to visit the Exhibit Hall, too, where hundreds of companies will be showcasing the latest products and technology! If you are in search of continuing education, you can visit ADA.org/meeting/continuing-education and the preliminary program can be downloaded at ADA.org/en/meeting/attendee-information.

Dental Sleep Medicine Panel

Now is the time to get hands on experience within advanced areas of dentistry! At this year’s ADA 2017, I will be participating in the Sleep Medicine Panel: Ask the Experts on Thursday, October 19th from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. This panel is available to help you grow as a dentist within the dental sleep medicine field.

If you have ever attended a continuing education course for dental sleep medicine with questions, now is the time to speak up. I will join three other sleep experts on this panel to present short summaries of our approaches for treating patients. Don’t worry; there will be plenty of room for in-depth discussion of what is on your mind. Feel free to bring your team, as well as billing and practical questions for us to answer!

I want to make sure you leave here with the knowledge you need to successfully implement dental sleep medicine at your practice. By attending this course, you will leave with a better understanding of various perspectives of treating sleep patients in your dental office, improved confidence in practicing dental sleep medicine, and comfort in billing medical insurance for sleep therapy.

I look forward to meeting you all and helping you better understand dental sleep medicine! To learn more, please visit our ADA 2017 course page.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea Disrupts Cognition in Parkinson’s Disease

Another interesting article and topic is how obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) disrupts cognition in Parkinson’s Disease patients. It seems that the more research being completed, the more we continue to see a link between other diseases. Sleep apnea in patients with Parkinson’s disease is linked to higher levels of sleepiness and lower cognitive function scores according to results published in Neurology.

What is the Connection?

Cognitive dysfunction is one of the non-motor symptoms of Parkinson’s disease associated with lower quality of life. Dementia also occurs in about 30% of patients with PD, reaching as high as 80% in patients with advanced age and disease. These cognitive and psychomotor impairments can also be linked with obstructive sleep apnea.

It’s interesting to think about this new connection and how it might affect our patients. While we might not interact with a large group of people with Parkinson’s disease, it is still important to know and understand this connection. For instance, sleep problems can be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. This is even before motor symptoms have begun. Some common sleep problems for Parkinson’s patients include:

  • Insomnia
  • Excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Nightmares
  • Sleep attacks
  • REM sleep behavior disorder
  • Periodic leg movement disorder
  • Restless leg syndrome
  • Sleep apnea
  • Nocturia

Each of these conditions can lead to further complications, mainly sleep apnea. And, as you know, sleep apnea has been linked to insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, nocturia and restless leg syndrome. By being aware of these connections, we can continue to help our patients even more.

Skipping Sleep Only to Catch Up Tomorrow Is Bad for Cognition

When our patients skip out on sleep and then try to catch up in the following days with longer bouts of sleep, it is tied to worse cognition–both in attention and creativity–in young adults. The more varied a person’s sleep patterns are, the worse their cognition declined across the week. In these instances, it makes learning and completing tasks quite difficult.

For this reason, we want to ensure our young adult patients are getting the appropriate amount of rest and screened for sleep apnea. Whether a person is completing a project, studying for school, or binge-watching their favorite show on Netflix, losing sleep and then trying to catch-up on sleep is never a good idea.

The Negative Effect of Skipping Sleep and Catching Up

Irregular sleep patterns have a negative effect on a person’s ability to focus for planning, making decisions, correcting errors, and remaining attentive while driving. Erratic sleep can also have a significant impact on creativity, meaning it is harder to think on your toes for various projects. Creativity is often described as a person’s ability to see a link between things that might seem unrelated at first, but then are able to create a link.

In addition to a lag in creativity, many young adults will experience a drop in their working memory, which enables them to hold memories for a short time while also completing a separate task. Sleep significantly improves creativity and memory, which is why it is important for us to ensure our patients are getting the sleep they need to complete daily tasks without issues.

Offer Treatment Options

If you notice your patients are experiencing signs of sleep deficiency or they mention how they crammed for an exam and lost sleep, but it’s ok because they will sleep this weekend, make sure you provide proper education. Inform those patients of the need for regular sleep every day and not just some days. Additionally, screen your patients for sleep apnea–there is a chance some patients might also be suffering from sleep apnea. When this is the case, no matter how much sleep they get, they will continue to struggle with their daily tasks. Be aware and look out for common symptoms so you can help your patients lead healthy, happy lives.

Let’s look deeper into cognition with young adults, so we can continue to provide the best care possible. What are ways you might look for signs and symptoms in your patients? Share your ideas and let’s see how we can continue to help!