by Ashley Truitt
So you have been to a few Snoring or Sleep Apnea presentations and learned enough to know there is an epidemic out there and Dentists are in a prime position to identify patients at risk and offer therapy alternatives. Are you ready to take the plunge and jump in? Would you like to learn more about how you can help your patients and people in the community have a better quality of life and in some cases make significant life changes? Great! Because there are many people out there suffering with untreated Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) who need you!
My Dental career started as a Clinical Assistant and progressed to being the Practice Manager of a busy dental practice in Sydney, Australia. After 4 years in the dental practice I ventured into the commercial world of Functional Orthopedics and Orthodontics, managing a well-known continuing education curricula in Australia, Asia and the United Kingdom. Functional Orthopedics gave me a great understanding of the “airway” and the positive effects that therapy can have on a patient’s ability to breathe well. This is what catapulted me into the world of Dental Sleep Medicine some 10 years ago where I was fortunate enough to have been appointed as one of the founding executives of an Australian medical device company that started in 2004 and launched in the USA in 2006. Now as the Manager of the Sleep Complete initiative for Henry Schein Dental, I find myself in a rapidly growing and rewarding industry. To give you an idea, I remember the very first American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) annual meeting I attended as a vendor in Denver, Colorado 2004 there were around 12 vendor exhibitors, 10 years later we will see approximately 80 vendor exhibits in 2014!
Therapy options have been limited in the past and some what restricted for sleep apnea due to diagnostic guidelines and reimbursement policies which often led patients down a path without treatment alternatives. Generally they were prescribed therapy that was either not suitable or tolerable. A fair percentage of the population found themselves not knowing which direction to go next, and they had no idea who would be able to help them with an appropriate therapy. These barriers have now been diminished due to a number of developments. Firstly, there is now a wide scope of clinical research published that demonstrates the positive effects of oral appliance therapy (OAT), in addition to a highly receptive and prolific industry providing products, solutions, services and technology. Public awareness of the potential dangers of snoring and sleep apnea along with all of the associated disease has become a hot health topic to report on, and Dentists are at the forefront of therapy options. “A Medical Disease with a Dental Solution” says it best!
You have made the decision… Where to go from here?
Continuing Education in Dental Sleep Medicine is offered widely across the United States by a number of different companies, organizations and speakers. In planning your educational strategy and finding a seminar that is best suited for you and your practice, check into our industry organizations. These organizations are dedicated to improving patient care through education, maintaining the industry guidelines pertaining to Sleep Medicine and are strongly supported by the market leaders to assist you in the integration of OAT into the general dental practice. Industry meetings are a cost effective and exciting way to experience some of the key opinion leaders on the Dental Sleep Medicine lecture circuit. You will be able to see a number of short courses and identify with content and speakers that you would like to learn more from before making the commitment to a complete and integrated course for you and your Team.
A very new site that may be helpful to you is www.ratece.com. There are a number of programs listed on this site where you are able to see unbiased testimonials and ratings from prior attendees. This is also where you will find the Henry Schein Sleep Complete Courses listed. I am looking forward to seeing our testimonials grow as the site gains more members and traction! You can also visit www.sleepcomplete/education programs.
In the past I have met with a number of Dentists who invested heavily in a dental sleep medicine program for their practice that came with the promise to deliver a host of new patients and a big revenue stream. In some cases this did not transpire and as an end result I saw disappointment, frustration and discontentment in their investment. This should not be the case in today’s environment! Today I see many highly successful Dentists effectively implement OAT and go on to build a solid Dental Sleep Medicine practice. Take a little time to research, make a plan and agree a unified commitment with your Team. Do some homework and look for a Webinar to help kick start your learning curve as there are plenty available at sites like www.vivalearning.com. Invest in education for you and your Team before making purchase decisions, understand the products that and services that are necessary (what you need for success), and finally make sure you have time to integrate a new treatment protocol into your practice. Let’s face it: the dentistry is not difficult, this is much about systems, processes and communication.
All of the above are important facets in building a cohesive, successful and rewarding OAT practice, and you may need to go to a few seminars to gain the confidence in gathering all of the pieces of the puzzle.
Your Dental Team – An Integral Part of Implementation and Ongoing Success!
This is where the rubber meets the road. If you are serious about implementing a successful Dental Sleep Medicine program into your practice IT IS ESSENTIAL that you include and empower your Team! Give them the knowledge, tools and responsibility they need to be able to support you in treating patients requiring therapy. OAT can be a great adjunct to the dental practice. It is rewarding, fulfilling and profitable. Choose a select few Team members and take them to a seminar. Choose one that encourages team participation as a part of the curriculum. You will need someone from your front office to learn about scheduling, documentation and medical billing for successful reimbursement. A Hygienist and Clinical Assistant will be of great value as they will learn how to detect and recognize patients at risk for OSA to engage in discussion and gain case acceptance. From the front office to the operatory, it is a TEAM EFFORT all the way.
There are also a number of online CE courses and programs being offered. This can be a great way for the practice to learn and is particularly powerful as a post seminar exercise to continue and solidify your educational experience. Certainly there are advantages to online learning, including eliminating the financial burden of travel expenses. However; if you are anything like me, then the advantages of learning in a seminar environment with colleagues and vendors maximizes your education
This is a great time to get involved in one of the fastest growing industries in the dental arena, so jump on board and get started today! I look forward to reporting on more CE opportunities available to you in the next edition of Dental Sleep Practice as you begin and or continue your journey.
Course Objectives You Should be Looking for:
- Screening for Obstructive Sleep Apnea in the Dental Practice
- How to identify patients at risk; screening questionnaires, home sleep tests, subjective analysis.
- Patient Evaluation with Home Sleep Testing (HST) and attended Polysomnogram (PSG) Studies.
- Understanding the diagnostic pathway utilizing HST & PSG according to the industry guidelines and reimbursement.
- How Does Oral Appliance Therapy Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea?
- Gaining understanding of oral appliance therapy, who to treat and who not to treat.
- Oral Appliance Designs and Fabrication
- Many to choose from, understanding the appliance selection criteria for your patient’s needs.
- Implementation of Systems, Office Flow and Integration into Your Practice
- An integral part of the process for the entire Team to learn.
- Documentation, Medical Billing and Reimbursement for the Dental Practice
- A must for the Front Office Team.
- Marketing Your Dental Sleep Medicine Practice
- Internal and external marketing strategies.
- Communicating with Physicians and Sleep Laboratories
- Understanding the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach and how to achieve it.