Meet the Sleep Team

No matter where you are located, there is a sleep team near you. Each sleep team is ready to help with your patients’ sleep problems. As a dental sleep medicine specialist, you play an integral role in the treatment of your patients. However, you do still need a sleep team to help you along the way. Let’s get to know the other members of a sleep team.woman-sleeping-skin-625km112013

Board Certified Sleep Medicine Physician

A board certified sleep medicine physician has the necessary skills to diagnose and treat sleep disorders. If you suspect your patient might be suffering from a sleep disorder, the first person you should contact is your local sleep medicine physician. Each sleep medicine specialist has received special training that can prevent serious life-threatening diseases and improve your quality of life.

The Sleep Technologist

A sleep technologist will assist in the evaluation and follow-up care of patients with sleep disorders—they interact directly with the patients. They will assist the sleep medicine physician with diagnostic tests, including in-lab sleep studies, multiple sleep latency testing (MSLT) and the maintenance of wakefulness testing (MWT). A sleep technologist will also score sleep tests prior to the physician’s interpretation, while also assisting patients with their home sleep tests.

Advance Practice Nurse/Physician Assistant

Nurses and physicians assist the sleep medicine physician in providing care for your sleep patients. Their roles will vary by state, but both typically practice within the scope of practice as defined by a state licensing board.

Sleep Surgeon

Also known as an otolaryngologist, a sleep surgeon has a specific interest in treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Sleep surgeons work closely with a board certified sleep physician to provide proper care for patients who cannot tolerate CPAP therapy. The sleep surgeon can discuss with your patient each surgery option available.

Behavioral Sleep Medicine Specialist

Mental health professionals that have training in behavioral sleep medicine can work with patients to address the behavioral, psychological and physiological factors that might be interfering with their sleep. A behavioral sleep medicine specialist will use cognitive-behavioral therapy to attempt to eliminate habits, behaviors and environmental disruptions that stand in the way of optimal rest.

As a dental sleep medicine specialist, you maintain the ability to recognize a sleeping problem before it worsens, while also being able to provide effective treatment for your patients. Dr. Mayoor Patel is available to help you learn more about your role as a dental sleep medicine specialist and how you can successfully treat your patients.

Make Continuing Education Part of Your New Year Resolution

It’s that time of year again. As the holidays have ended, you might be thinking about your New Year’s Resolution. For 2015, take charge of your practice and make a resolution to provide improved care and services. By expanding your practice to properly treat patients with sleep apnea or TMD, you can significantly improve your patients’ oral and overall health.

Take a Class

In 2015 you will have the availability of fresh, new classes and lectures you can attend for Dental Sleep Medicine. Beginning in January, you can visit Nierman Practice Management, where Dr. Patel is the Clinical Education Director, for an up-to-date schedule of continuing education courses. By completing continuing education courses, you can offer your patients further services and resources to better meet their individual needs. And, not only can you attend continuing education courses, but your entire staff can as well!

Provide Educational Material

Another area of your resolution to improve your practice can be patient education material. By helping your patients better understand sleep apnea, TMD or any other area you can ensure they can take care of themselves after leaving your office. You can improve educational information by providing brochures/pamphlets, and properly answering a patient’s questions while in the office. When you provide your patients with exceptional educational information, you can continue to help them long after they leave your office.

Take a stand in 2015 and improve your practice by not only attending continuing education courses, but also by providing appropriate educational information for your patients. Make your resolution for 2015 one that will not only help your office, but your patients, as well.

Give Your Patients the Gift of a Better Night’s Sleep

Let’s face it, snoring is not attractive, nor is it fun. When a person or their partner snores, it can significantly interrupt their night’s sleep, causing tense relationships. To help your patients give the gift of a better night’s sleep, it is important for your dental office to begin continuing education in the area of dental sleep medicine. Currently, it has been shown that 40% of the American population snores while as many as 16% has diagnosable sleep apnea. With more than 80% of sleep breathing disorders going undiagnosed, your practice can take the next step toward helping your patients and their family members get a better night’s sleep.

What to do

The first thing you should do is to educate yourself on the practice and particulars of dental sleep medicine today. By taking an introductory course on Dental Sleep Medicine you can get a robust introduction to the field of dental sleep medicine. There are several organizations that offer courses and annual meetings to meet the continuing education needs for integrating dental sleep medicine into your practice.

Next, it is important to create a relationship with your local sleep physician. While this may be out of your comfort zone, it is an essential part of gaining the resources you need to give your patients the gift of a better night’s sleep. Sleep physicians are the medical providers who diagnose sleep-disordered breathing and are responsible for the overall care of the patient. As an effective and successful dentist, you will work very closely with your patients’ sleep physician to provide optimal care.

Begin Now

Within your dental practice you can begin to integrate dental sleep therapies. You can do this by creating sleep-focused conversations with your patients. This can be as simple as adding a question to your hygienist’s initial consultation with the patient, such as Do you, or anyone in your family, snore? By adding this simple question, you can help uncover a large population that is in need of care and may not even realize it.

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is heritable and can often be found in children of snoring parents, so taking charge now is important in their overall health. Asking a simple question at a patient’s appointment can be all you need to offer a successful treatment plan so they can get a better night’s sleep! Your patients’ families will be thanking you for this gift that keeps on giving!

The Hygienist’s Role in Dental Sleep Medicine

As a dental hygienist, you can save lives, too! Hygienists are typically concerned with looking for and eradicating periodontal disease, and improving their patients’ overall oral health. At the same time, hygienists are looking for cavities, screening for oral cancer, treating periodontal infections, and motivating patients to improve their oral health at home. Dental hygienists also educate patients on the links between periodontal disease and heart attacks, diabetes, and low birth-weight babies. As the first person your patients meet, hygienists offer recommendations based on a patient’s individual needs, which might include advice on sleep.

Sleep Apnea and Hygienists

When going to the dentist, the topic of sleep apnea is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, the area of dental sleep medicine continues to advance each year. Once a dental hygienist has received the proper education, training and CE certification in sleep apnea it is impossible to ignore the signs and symptoms of this potentially deadly condition. Initial screenings reveal that many of your patients might snore, feel tired all the time or knew someone who had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, but had never sought treatment.

Educate Your Patients

In addition to educating your patients on oral diseases and complications, it is important to also educate them on the dangers of sleep apnea and what treatment options are available. Through the knowledge of sleep apnea, patients can become better informed of this potentially deadly disease before it worsens.

As a hygienist you can educate your patients on what sleep apnea is, as well as oral appliances. Explain to your patients how an oral appliance works and how it would be custom-made specifically for their individual needs so they can sleep with an unobstructed airway.

Incorporating dental sleep medicine into your practice is important. It is also extremely beneficial to make sure your dental hygienists receive the education they need to properly identify a problem, as well as establishing and maintaining an effective treatment plan.

Treating sleep apnea in the dental office helps to increase the quality of your patients’ lives. With the help of your hygienists, your patients will sleep better, wake up well rested, and their bed partners will thank you, too! Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel for more information on how your hygienists can also receive the educational training they need to accomplish to help them in identifying and treating sleep apnea in patients.