Proper Implementation of Social Media in Dentistry

Do you have a Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or another social media channel? Are you actively utilizing your platform? If you have answered no to either, or both, it is time to get your office in gear with social networking–and I don’t mean just sharing GIFs. An active social network allows you to reach your patients and even medical professionals with important information any time of the day. Whether you are sharing blog posts or office information, it is important to maintain your social presence in order to remain the go-to place for your patients.

Start Posting Now

If you haven’t posted anything on your social media channels in a while, now is the time to get that going. And, with your posts, be sure to pay attention to when you are posting. While the first couple times might be trial and error, you will soon figure out the times your patients are active on social media by the interaction on each post–pay attention to that. Try in the morning because most people tend to check their social media upon waking in the morning. Another good time is either at lunch or after work.

Share Better Not More

What are you sharing? Can your patients relate? Are you posting non-stop? If you are posting several times day everyday–STOP. The more often you post, the more patients might “unlike” or “unfollow” your page if they can’t relate. Stick to a couple times a week, once a day, and make sure to post interesting information they will want to read and share.

You can help educate your patients by doing the following:

  • Answering questions
  • Providing resources
  • Sharing images
  • Giving tips

Let your patients know that you are available and are listening. Contact my office if you have any further questions about how to better utilize social media, or contact Sara Berg (she helps me manage my social channels).

There’s a New Definition of Dental Sleep Medicine

Attention! Attention! There’s a new definition of Dental Sleep Medicine (DSM)–wait what? I know, I thought the same thing when I read this article. However, it did bring to mind some valuable information we can utilize from here on out for DSM. To begin with, dental sleep medicine is an extension of dentistry in which we an provide appropriate services for the treatment of sleep apnea. So, what is this new definition?

The New Definition

Dental Sleep Medicine’s new definition goes above and beyond sleep apnea. This new definition takes the role of sleep apnea treatment and takes it one step further by incorporating pain into the equation. DSM is the discipline concerned with the study of the oral and maxillofacial causes and consequences of sleep-related problems.

This helps to broaden the subject area to other problems in dentistry, such as orofacial or craniofacial pain, bruxism, and other areas. These disorders have been touched on as their own, but what about together?

Where to Begin

This “new” definition of dental sleep medicine can improve the services offered at your practice. To begin 2017 out on the right foot, I am excited to announce that on January 20-21 my first lecture will be “ABC – Airway, Bruxism & Craniofacial Pain”. This lecture will dive into this “new definition” of dental sleep medicine so you can continue to expand your dental practice services and expertise.

Take the next step in providing proper care to your patients and by educating yourself in the New Year. With the availability of the ABC lecture and others, I can work with you to continue your education.

Teaching Dental Sleep Medicine in Dental School at West Virginia University

Previously we have discussed the need to incorporate dental sleep medicine courses into the curriculum at dental schools. While this continues to be an area that we need to focus on, I have some exciting news to share with you all. To my knowledge, the first school where the dean is proactive in incorporating dental sleep medicine (DSM) education is West Virginia University School of Dentistry.

Beginning in the first year of dental school, Dean Borgia of West Virginia University ensures students can start receiving classes in DSM. And, to help keep students informed, I have joined forces to provide courses on DSM and other areas. Teaching

My Time Teaching at WVU

Topics are covered at West Virginia University as they cover sections in Basic Science. When students complete head and neck anatomy, I came in to visit and teach about Airway Anatomy as it relates to sleep apnea. Understanding the airway and how it can affect a patient’s sleeping patterns due to sleep apnea, and other sleep disordered breathing conditions, is vital in maintaining your patients’ health and improving service offerings.

Next, when students’ classes covered respiration in physiology, I came in again to discuss sleep physiology. There are two types of sleep, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM). By understanding these types of sleep, and their role in sleep apnea, as well as other areas, students can continue to learn the importance of DSM and caring for their patients.

This occurs each time students reach a place in their learning where dental sleep medicine come into the picture. By providing these added courses, we can pave the way for our students to begin their dental careers with more knowledge than ever before. And, while they will still need to complete more education each year to remain up-to-date, the dean, a few of my colleagues  and myself are able to get them prepared for the future.

Providing advanced classes in dental sleep medicine at our Universities should be a requirement for all dental schools. I am glad West Virginia University’s School of Dentistry Dean has taken that next step in providing classes at each phase of learning. To learn more about my upcoming lectures, and where I might be next, please visit my Upcoming Lectures page.

Teamwork Between Dentists and Sleep Physicians is Essential

It’s time to create your team! Just like any sporting event, teamwork means success. While you won’t be choosing a whole roster, you will need to find  a sleep physician to work with. Collaboration with a sleep physician allows your office to generate a diagnosis for your patient while also receiving referrals.

A Diagnosis for Patients

To begin, dentists DO NOT diagnose–it is important to remember you need a diagnosis from a sleep physician before beginning treatment. By building a rapport with a sleep physician you can send your patients their way for a proper diagnosis. Begin now by introducing yourself, and providing information about what you know and services you offer your patients–the more they know the better.

Receiving Referrals

When patients are CPAP non-compliant, what other options do they have for treatment? Many are unaware of the availability of oral appliance therapy, which often is the same for many sleep physicians. By not only educating your patients, but sleep physicians, too, you can begin receiving referrals to your office. As you know, mild to moderate sleep apnea can often be treated with oral appliance therapy.

Physicians who understand oral appliance therapy can frequently refer patients to your office for proper care when CPAP therapy is not working or the patient doesn’t want to utilize a CPAP machine. It can also be beneficial for combination therapy with both the oral appliance and the CPAP machine.

To learn more about building a relationship with a sleep physician, sign up for an upcoming lecture, or schedule a consultation and shadowing options. Together we can improve your service offerings.