When Disaster Strikes; A Call to Action


Incorporating a dental sleep practice
Remains of a neighborhood destroyed by Hurricane Irma in Big Pine Key, Florida on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017. Photo by J.T. Blatty / FEMA

by William L. Tycoliz, Jr., DDS

In 2017, America saw the destruction that Hurricane Irma, a Category 4 storm, brought upon Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and the Caribbean. To date, the storm caused an estimated $50 billion in damage and, according to the National Hurricane Center, is considered the fifth-costliest hurricane to hit mainland United States.

Incorporating a dental sleep practiceMy practice, located in Summerland Key, Florida, was one of the structures that was obliviated as a result of the storm when it hit Florida. It took me and my staff over two years to rebuild my practice and I am proud to say, that as of July 2019, my practice re-opened to serve the needs of our community.

During the time that the practice remained closed, when I wasn’t fighting with insurance companies or securing building permits, I kept up with continuing education. In one of the courses I took soon after the storm hit, I became aware of the policy statement issued by the American Dental Association recommending all dental practices actively screen all patients and when appropriate, treat them for sleep-related breathing disorders.
The subject of sleep disorders intrigued me because I suspected that I may suffer from the condition. As a result, I took many courses on the topic and came across SleepArchiTx when I realized that I needed a full-service provider to help me launch a dental sleep medicine program at my office once we opened our doors.

Incorporating a dental sleep practice
Office manager’s husband displaying physical signs of airway deficiency prior to treatment.
Photo by Summerland Dental (left) and Aligner Sleep Appliance® worn by the patient. Photo by SleepArchiTx. (right)

After evaluating various sleep options in the market, I decided to become a SleepArchiTx Certified Provider and strategically began my training and the training of my team just before we opened doors in July 2019.

After our initial training with SleepArchiTx, we didn’t have to dig deep for patients because, among our staff and loved ones, we found people that needed immediate help. One such patient is my office manager’s husband. After receiving a sleep test from SleepArchiTx, their physician diagnosed her husband with sleep apnea. Soon after, we delivered the Aligner Sleep Appliance and the patient reports sleeping better. My staff member, his wife, tells me that she loves the sleep appliance because her husband doesn’t snore as much, and she no longer wakes up in the middle of the night due to his snoring.

Since that initial patient, we have now instituted a screening protocol that is provided to all our patients and have several of our patients on sleep appliances. I feel that by partnering with SleepArchiTx, I was able to quickly ramp up my entire team’s knowledge on sleep disorders, provide my patients with the best treatment options and see SleepArchiTx as an extension of our practice efforts to tackle what is considered an epidemic in America.

After deploying dental sleep medicine in my practice, I have come to appreciate that everything starts with a proper screening protocol. A simple questionnaire, such as the Sleep Disorders Assessment form by SleepArchiTx, will get your patients properly evaluated and keep your practice compliant with the American Dental Association policy statement on sleep disorders.

Incorporating a dental sleep practice
Sleep Disorder Assessment form completed by the patient. Courtesy of Summerland Dental.

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