Imagine how boring your dental practice would be if all our patients were the same. No patient would present with an array of problems that took some time to sort out or encouraged us to collaborate with colleagues, expanding that usual circle of dentists to include physicians of many disciplines. We’d never grow or learn through each patient experience and none of them would help us recognize gaps in our own knowledge.
Luckily we don’t live in that world. Every new patient experience has the potential to challenge us and by doing so, encourages us to continually add to our knowledge and skills.
There’s perhaps no better example of the kind of patient that requires broad thinking and helps us augment gaps in our knowledge than the sleep patient. As dentists, we can assess oral health readily, but considering placement of a mandibular advancement device requires an understanding far beyond teeth and gums as noted by several essays in this issue of Dental Sleep Practice.
We must have confidence in our abilities to assess the temporomandibular complex so that we can properly inform our patients of the risk that forward-posturing their jaw may hold. We must be able to integrate medical findings related to sleep, comorbidities, and pharmacotherapy with the dental services we are trained to provide. And because patients aren’t just their physical complaints and examination data points, but real people with unique personalities, values, circumstances and objectives—we need to be able to connect with them too. We need to encourage them to feel free to tell their story so that we can recommend the best and safest recommendations for their situation.
For us to make a difference in our community health, we must seek sleep patient education on our own through postgraduate programs. There are numerous offerings to choose from, but the one place you can be assured that your learning experience is catered to your needs is The Pankey Institute, a not-for-profit organization that has been offering visionary dental education in a non-commercial environment for over forty-five years. The Institute was founded in honor of Dr. L.D. Pankey who was a passionate advocate of comprehensive, patient-centered dentistry and his passion for helping other dentists understand the happiness and fulfillment they could gain by creating closer relationships with patients is a fundamental part of all The Institute’s courses.
Pankey offers a four-day Dental Sleep course where a maximum of 16 participants will work side-by-side with 6 experts who will prepare both novice and experienced sleep dentists to treat their sleep disordered breathing patients. This course will open your eyes and heart to an entirely new world of thinking. If you think it’s satisfying to help save someone’s teeth, just wait until you’ve saved someone’s life! Tuition for this course also includes your own custom made appliance, a remoldable professional temporary appliance, and personal sleep study.
If you read this issue and wonder how you, too, can be skilled at treating sleep patients with confidence, seek out more information at www.Pankey.org