Work with physicians to treat craniofacial pain

 

With such a large portion of the population not getting the right treatment for what are often debilitating disorders, there is an incredible need for dentists who understand the neuroanatomical relationship within the cranio-cervical area and how to diagnose common pain complaints in the head and neck. This is why it is important to work with physicians to treat craniofacial pain.

Treating craniofacial pain is a team effort, with the patient’s Dentist, ENT, Neurologist, Physiatrist, Physical Therapist, and Psychiatrist all potentially playing a role in diagnosis and treatment. A dentist must understand what physicians do in a diagnostic workup and treatment and when it’s necessary to refer out in order to truly understand their role and fulfill their duties in patient care and establish referral relationships across various physician specialties.

By learning how to diagnose and treat craniofacial pain, dentists gain a great power to change their patients’ lives. With great power comes great responsibility for the proper diagnosis and management of pain in and around the mouth, face and neck. 

Create a working relationship

Many patients will find themselves in a neurological, primary care, chiropractic, pain management or an ENT’s office, but that may not always be the best place. For example, undiagnosed TMD may be mistaken for different ailments, as it can often stump many medical practitioners with the vast crossover of symptoms patients experience. 

A patient might complain of TMJ pain, but in reality they are suffering from a disease or infection of the ear, nose or throat. It is also common for a patient to complain of ear pain, but have the pain really be related to an affected TMJ. When this occurs, patients might be in the wrong medical office seeking treatment, or the clinician is frustrated that their prescribed therapy based on symptoms has not helped in resolving a patient’s complaints. 

Whether it is neurological or sinus related, you want your patients to get the best care available, and that means joining forces with other medical professionals. From neurologists and otolaryngologists to family practitioners, it is important to create a working relationship with each medical practitioner in order to discuss or refer for diagnosis and management of your patients when further assistance is needed.

Whether it is ear, dental or head related, a working relationship with the medical professionals in your community is essential in providing proper treatment for your patients! They will thank you in the end.

Take advantage of upcoming educational sessions

Have you been thinking about completing continuing education? Well, what are you waiting for? Yes, I know it is summer, but that is the best time to start! Plan your vacation around an upcoming seminar or lecture and bring the family too! 

Even once summer is done, we have several education sessions that are in warmer states so you can even get away from the cold in the fall and winter. To help you get a better idea for what is coming up, I have put together a list of my upcoming lectures. 

I have broken up the educational courses into three categories: Dental sleep medicine, craniofacial pain and combination. These courses will take place in the next three months and I hope to see you at one of them.

Dental sleep medicine education

September 14, 2019

Topic: DSM for NP/PA (Atlanta Sleep School)

Location: Atlanta, GA

 

September 27-28, 2019

Topic: DSM sleep Mini residency Session 1

Location: Denver, CO

 

October 4-5, 2019

Topic: Successful Implementation of Dental Sleep Medicine

Location: Chicago, IL

 

Craniofacial pain lectures

August 23-25, 2019

Topic: Orofacial Pain Mini Residency  Session 2

Location: Raleigh, NC

 

September 20-21, 2019

Topic: TMJ Disorders

Location: Dallas, TX

 

Combination sleep and pain sessions

August 9-10, 2019

Topic: Sleep & Pain Mini Residency 3 Session 3

Location: Atlanta, GA

 

September 6-7, 2019

Topic: Sleep & Pain Mini Residency 4 Session 1

Location: Atlanta, GA

 

October 11-12, 2019

Topic: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving for Sleep & TMJ

Location: Atlanta, GA

 

October 25-26, 2019

Topic: Dental Sleep & Craniofacial Pain Panel conference

Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL

 

There are a lot of great destinations in this list, with even more important topics to cover. I encourage you to attend a couple (or all) lectures in the next couple months. If you can’t, there will be more in the later part of the year too. We have a lot to talk about that can help you continue to improve the services you offer your patients. I look forward to seeing some of you at an upcoming lecture!

Dr. Patel was on the cover of Dental Sleep Practice magazine

Did you catch Dr. Patel and Rose Nierman on the cover of Dental Sleep Practice magazine this spring? You did? That’s OK because we have it right here! Check it out! 

Did you also know that you can also access the full magazine online? You can. Here is the full magazine

Inside the magazine is an article, “A Journey into Dental Sleep Medicine & Craniofacial Pain,” which is about Dr. Patel’s journey as a dentist. He is a dentist that other professionals look up to as an expert. Through the creation of his practice, he continues to provide his patients with the best care possible in the areas of dental sleep medicine and craniofacial pain.

Dental Sleep Practice sat down with Dr. Patel to learn more about his journey. You can read the full article here.

Here’s how to generate physician referrals

Are you ready to get new patients for sleep apnea or craniofacial pain treatment? Now is the time to get your practice noticed. It is important to establish a working relationship with your local physicians. This is essential for generating patient referrals, which are key to keeping your dental sleep medicine and/or craniofacial pain practice alive. To help you with generating physician referrals, here are four things you can do now to establish a strong working relationship.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

This step is so important I had to say it three times, “Prepare, prepare and prepare.” When speaking with a physician you only get a short time frame to share what you need to say. To make the most of those short minutes, prepare something to say that won’t take up too much time. Think of an elevator ride. What can you say in that short ride to the fifth or tenth floor?

Think about a couple of bullet points that you want to make sure you hit. These points should be tailored to the physician’s specialty. For example, ENTs will want to know more about how you are offering oral appliances and how these devices can be tried before recommending surgery. If you are talking to a family physician, think about sharing how it may take a long time for patients to get into a sleep clinic for further testing. And if you are speaking with a cardiologist, discuss atrial fibrillation, high blood pressure, hypertension or any other sleep apnea comorbidities.

Invite physicians to a lunch and learn

Everyone loves a lunch and learn, right? Think about it. If you can find a convenient time for physicians in your community to pop in for a quick presentation and lunch, they would remember it. This is a chance for you to get to know the other health care providers in your community, while also educating their teams on the benefits of oral appliance therapy for treatment of sleep apnea or temporomandibular joint disorder.

Use this time to answer questions about insurance benefits, how it works and how they can refer. Don’t forget to invite your team too–they are there to mingle and learn as well. And make sure you bring some marketing materials with you to share. This allows the physicians to bring something back with them.

Visit the office

Sometimes you just have to go straight to the source. If you want to reach out, feel free to stop into a physician’s office to drop off marketing materials or have a quick chat with the doctor. This allows you to share important information without completely disrupting their day. You should include the latest American Academy of Sleep Medicine guidelines that list oral appliance therapy as a successful treatment option. You should also share your services and how you can help their patients too. One way to really catch their eye is to personalize the marketing materials you share with them. Try to include a handwritten note to each physician.

Refer patients back

This relationship goes both ways. If the physician is referring patients to you and you are doing nothing in return, what good will that do? This is a time to establish a strong working relationship and if you are referring patients back to them, it is a win-win for both offices. You want them to feel like the relationship is one of collaboration and that you are caring for patients as a team.