“The First Thing I Changed”

When Dr. Kalli Hale began growing a sleep practice, her first step was to find out more about her patients.

Growing a sleep practice
Mentorship with a purpose

by Kalli Hale, DDS, MPH, D.ABDSM, D.ABSB

Dental sleep medicine changed my life and practice in immeasurable ways. I have made it my mission to screen every patient for signs of sleep disordered breathing, both children and adults. When caught early enough, we can spare our children from a lifetime of systemic health issues that arise from underdeveloped jaws. We HAVE to stop getting it wrong, for our kids, right now.

I am often asked what we did to grow our dental sleep practices so quickly. We average over 300 cases per year in one of our locations, due to a focus on saving lives. After an extensive education in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and sleep related breathing disorders (SRBD’s) in 2019, the first thing I changed was implementing a sleep questionnaire. We have since grown to 5 locations across the greater Houston area, with 3 offices focused entirely on pediatric growth/development and adult oral appliance therapy/orthodontics.

The First Thing I Changed

Every patient, new or old, was asked to fill out a sleep questionnaire, so we could start having the right conversation (more to come on this later). If you are new to this space and looking to add sleep to your arsenal of treatment options, take this elephant one bite at a time. What you will find is >80% of your patients are suffering from at least one symptom of poor sleep; and when you dig deeper into the specifics of pediatric growth/development you will find that nearly all children need early intervention orthodontics.

Gone are the days that we can ignore the symptoms of SRBD’s in our adult patients and “band-aid” them with poor solutions, such as occlusal guards. We must stop letting our patients damage their teeth and start identifying the root cause of their bruxism, mouth breathing, fatigue, etc. In addition, it is vital that we stop telling these parents their child’s snoring is normal and they will grow out of it! The ‘watch and wait method’ is no method at all and is dangerous to developing brains. In children, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can have significant effects on behavior, neurodevelopment, metabolism, and general health.1

There are many ways to treat this epidemic of sleep disordered breathing in dentistry. But to treat it, you must be able to identify it. Without the systems in place to properly screen your patients, you will fall short. Do not get overwhelmed by the multitude of oral appliance therapy options; start by educating yourself on the oral signs of sleep disordered breathing and then ask more questions. Find your tribe and band with the dentists in the trenches tackling this every day. You can save the lives of your patients and reduce the economic burden of obstructive sleep apnea our country is facing. You are not “just a dentist”, you are the most qualified person that exists to identify the glaring signs in someone’s mouth that they are struggling to breathe at night.

Watch for Dr. Hale’s next article: The First Thing I Got Wrong.

For more about growing a sleep practice, see what Dr. William E. Williams has to say. https://dentalsleeppractice.com/starting-a-dental-sleep-medicine-practice/

Growing a sleep practiceKalli Hale, DDS, MPH, D.ABDSM, D.ABSB, is passionate about how our teeth affect our systemic health – the link between chronic jaw infections, periodontal disease, and subsequent heart problems. Her training in obstructive sleep apnea has transformed both her personal and professional career. Dr. Hale is a Clinical Advocate for VIVOS Therapeutics and works with dentists around the country to develop clinical protocols for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and sleep-disordered breathing. Her work in pediatric expansion and sleep-disordered breathing catapulted her speaking career and she lives by the slogan “we have to stop getting it wrong, for our kids.” She is faculty for the Dental Success Network, a key-opinion leader for Candid, and the Chief Dental Officer for Toothpillow. She travels monthly across the U.S. and abroad to teach dentists about Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Learn more about her sleep mentorship program at https://sleepwelljourney.com/.

  1. Kansagra S, Vaughn B. Pediatric sleep apnea: Five things you might not know. Neurol Clin Pract. 2013;3(4):321-325.

Stay Relevant With Dental Sleep Practice

Join our email list for CE courses and webinars, articles and more..

Shopping Cart
Scroll to Top