Working with a Sleep Physician

Another important relationship to hold and maintain is with a sleep physician. Sleep medicine in the dental office provides knowledge and understanding of sleep physiology and the life-threatening consequences of sleep-disordered breathing. Many at-risk patients are candidates for oral appliance therapy, and many patients who are suffering from sleep apnea can be treated by your dental practice working in an interdisciplinary relationship with a sleep physician.

The Sleep Physician’s Role

While you can provide your patients with oral appliance therapy, it is important to be aware that the first step in treatment is diagnosis. In order to properly diagnose your patients, a sleep physician is needed. A sleep physician is available to provide proper diagnosis of sleep apnea in patients. For this reason, it is important to establish a relationship with your local sleep physician. With each patient that displays signs of a sleep breathing disorder, you can send them to your local sleep physician for referral. Through a visit with the sleep physician, your patient will be monitored, tested and diagnosed. From there you can treat your patient with oral appliance therapy when appropriate.

Create a Bond

First, it is important to introduce your dental sleep medicine practice to your local sleep physician. This allows your local sleep physician to be aware of the services you provide, which helps in building a relationship for proper diagnosis and treatment planning. To create this working relationship, it is important that you give physicians and their staff confidence that your practice will provide exceptional care for their patients by speaking their language and sending standard medical SOAP format narratives that document your patients’ treatment—it demonstrates to physicians that your practice has established proper protocols.

Introducing yourself to your local sleep physician is a good way to establish a solid relationship because you are informing them that you are screening your dental patients for sleep apnea, and will be referring to them for an evaluation and diagnosis. The sleep physician will also play a large role in a follow-up sleep study after a patient has begun oral appliance therapy. Your local sleep physician will help to make sure the treatment is working, or provide treatment adjustments as needed.

Contact Dr. Mayoor Patel for more information on how you can establish a proper relationship with your local sleep physician and why it is so important for treating your patients.

Hygienists: Get Involved

Previously we have always touched base on the dentist’s role in the treatment of sleep apnea and craniofacial pain. However, hygienists play a crucial role in sleep apnea as well. Why? It’s simple. A hygienist is the one that spends the most time with patients once they enter the dental office. From routine dental cleanings to educational information, the hygienist plays a large role in the interaction with the patient, which means they may be the first to realize a patient might be suffering from sleep apnea.

Get Involved: Your Role

Sleep apnea is a chronic condition that often requires long-term management. In the last 10 years, dentists and hygienists have become more involved in the treatment of sleep apnea, which continues to expand. Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed because most people who suffer from this condition don’t even realize they have it. Since patients visit their dentist more often than they visit their doctor, a dental hygienist plays a critical role in screening patients for sleep breathing disorders and caring for them.

A dental hygienist can play an important role in the recognition of sleep disorders by adding questions to the standard dental history. Just as you ask your patients questions about their dental health care, it is important to get a better understanding of their day-to-day habits that might not only include brushing and flossing. You might want to ask patients the following questions at their regular dental visits:

  • Do you snore?
  • Can you breathe through your nose?
  • Do you wake up tired in the morning?
  • Do you become extremely tired or fall asleep during the day?

Each question is important in determining signs and symptoms of sleep apnea in your patients. And, since you are the main point of contact for your patients twice a year, it is important to include this in your questions.

Dentists and Hygienists work as a team in the treatment and diagnosis of oral health care issues, which means sleep apnea, too. Start today, and get a better understanding of how you, the hygienist, can aide in the identification and treatment of sleep apnea in your patients.

Generate Marketing

When it comes to “putting your practice out there,” you don’t need a marketing guru to tell you what to do. By definition, marketing is “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.” However, traditional marketing should not be your focus. With today’s marketing continually advancing, we want to look deeper than the simple advertising rouse that many companies still attempt. Today, especially with dental offices, we want to utilize marketing in a way that we can further engage with our patients. For your dental office, marketing should include social media management, content marketing and patient outreach.

Social Media Management

For starters, let’s take a brief look at social media management. We have previously mentioned the importance of a presence on social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter and Google+. In terms of marketing, social media is the way of the future. Through these different channels, your dental office can reach patients on a whole new level. From simple office updates to practice specials, you can utilize social media tools for all of your marketing needs.

Want to announce the availability of dental sleep medicine in your office? Spread the word on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and your active blog. Want to let your patients know there is a new member to your staff? Share it on social media! Have important, educational information? Your social network is the key to sharing all of this information and is your greatest asset in your marketing plan.

Content Marketing

By now you might have heard that “Content is King,” but what does that mean? As our society continues to shift toward the Internet, so does your marketing plan. And, a large part of that plan should be content. What does this mean? This means your website, social media channels, educational blog, press releases and other sources for generating online content.

The biggest source for your content marketing can be found right on your website. From the pages to the blog, your office can utilize content marketing to its fullest here. The content you should include on your website should be:

  • Information about your office
  • Educational pages
  • Services offered
  • Contact
  • Interactive blog
  • Doctor and staff bios

When generating your content, it is important to provide unique, quality content rather than focusing on quantity. And, most of all do not include duplicate content on your site or blog—Google can tell. With quality content on your website and blog, your practice can become easily searchable for patients.

Patient Outreach

The patient outreach portion of your marketing plan can include a variety of ideas and practices. Try to include a Newsletter, in-office information, an email list, etc. Whatever you can do to further reach your patients is beneficial. A newsletter allows you to share information about your practice or educational information by sending it right to your patients’ email. This creates a new way for you to share the most important information with them without having to rely on social media or content on your website. By offering an email list for your patients to join, you can send the information you want them to see right away directly to them.

Establish your practice with a marketing plan that can successfully reach your patients. If you have any questions on marketing or other ways you can reach your patients, contact Dr. Mayoor Patel for more information.

Helping You Blog –Introducing Blog Ideas

Creating a blog for your practice can help to improve your lead generation ability because not only is it great for search engine optimization (SEO), but it will help to build trust with your patients. Every blog that you publish becomes its own webpage, which continues to help you build your online presence and grow your Internet footprint. While you may be aware of the impact a blog can be for your marketing, you need to figure out some topics to blog about, which can be the biggest roadblock for starting a blog.

Try educational and Patient-Centered Content

When creating your blog, try to stick to educational and patient-centered content. Once you create a following from this content, you can begin to throw in blogs about your practice. In order for your blog to generate results for your dental practice, it is important to have content that will attract the interest of your current patients and prospective patients. To do this you will need to provide patients with information they are looking for.

If you are trying to self-promote yourself, they won’t be as valuable to you or your practice from a marketing standpoint. Prospective patients are more interested in reading educational material, rather than advertisements. Show that you run a quality practice by helping patients with their questions about dental care –the more quality, educational blogs the better.

Blog Topic Brainstorming

As we stated above, it is important to write educational and patient-centered content for your blog. Depending on your office’s specialties, you can begin brainstorming. For example, a general dentistry practice might utilize these three blog topics:

  • 3 Warning Signs of Impacted Wisdom Teeth
  • The Ultimate Toothpaste Guide
  • TMJ Problems and How You Can Prevent Them

These topics can also continue to expand into other blog topics –the ideas are limitless! If you have questions about blogging, contact Dr. Mayoor Patel for more information. As an expert in dental sleep medicine, Dr. Patel strives to improve his patients’ and other dentists’ understanding of important dental health care topics through his blogging, which can be attributed to a freelance writer, which is a helpful alternative for dentists who do not have time to actively blog.

Do you currently have a practice blog? If so, what types of blogs are you posting? Share your responses with us!