To get started, can you give us some background on the importance of sleep medicine?
Sleep medicine is necessary because sleep is the foundation of health. Sleep is crucial to healthy brain function, information processing, and the consolidation of memory. It is required to regulate and control the intricate systems within our body, like our endocrine system (hormones), our immune system, and cardiovascular system. Consequently, when the brain is consistently being roused due to OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) and never given a chance to rest, we see a reduction in the strength of these critical systems.
Another essential factor in the importance of sleep medicine is the trend of health in our society today. Chronic non-communicable diseases are at an all-time high. Even though we have access to more affordable technology than ever before. Our healthcare system continues to prescribe medications without testing sleep, one of the most critical factors in patients overall health.
Have you found that public awareness and education around sleep medicine has grown in recent years?
Yes, overall education and awareness regarding sleep is growing. However, the dental industry needs to take a more significant, serious role in the conversation. Dentists need to get educated on how they can help their patients and become more confident in their ability to help their patients.
What is the role of the dentist in sleep medicine?
At Devdent, we agree wholeheartedly with the statement made by the ADA (American Dental Association) in 2017.
We encourage dentists to get educated and start treating sleep in your practice. In the case that you don’t want to add dental sleep medicine to your practice, then at least get the patient to someone who can help them.
What does the education process look like for dentists looking to integrate sleep medicine into their practice?
Start with a course. At Devdent, we mirror our teaching style and curriculum to support the statement made by the ADA (2017). It’s essential to get a solid foundation of education so that you know how all the elements of dental sleep medicine work together. Sleep medicine is a process and is not something that you can add to your practice overnight. However, we have created our two-day course to give you all the tools that you need to get started. While also providing the option for onsite training to help get the whole team on board.
Is this education easily accessible?
As accessible as we can make it! Our two-day courses are inexpensive in comparison to any other dental sleep course. Because we have been able to partner with Henry Schein & other great companies that help us keep the cost low.
How have advances in technology helped dentists integrate dental sleep medicine?
With every technological advancement in dentistry, it catapults us forward and gives us the tools to provide better patient care and save the patient time.
In the case of dental sleep medicine, we have watched the arrival of intraoral scanners that can give us a digital 3D image of the patient’s mouth in minutes. This helps us as dentists to make better oral appliances, keep better records, provide a better experience, and gives us insight into the patient’s treatment needs.
We also have seen a considerable increase in the capabilities of Cone Beam Imaging (3D Imaging) in the last 10 years. These remarkable machines provide us a clear view of the airway and give us the information that we need to make more intelligent treatment choices.
Why is sleep medicine a valuable area for dentists to invest their time and resources?
The opportunity to open the door to a better life and quality of sleep for their patients. With 1 in 5 people suffering from undiagnosed OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), you have the opportunity to positively affect your patients while adding a new source of revenue to your practice. Not to mention that you will sleep better. We are amazed at how many attendees to our courses actually are the ones that have undiagnosed sleep apnea. We test all the dentists that attended our course, and it is incredible to see the results on day two.
What are the deterrents keeping dentists from incorporating sleep medicine into their practice?
There are several reasons why dentists don’t include dental sleep medicine in their practice. The most common being, “How am I going to get paid for treating dental sleep medicine? Do I need to learn how to bill medical?” These valid concerns are the main reason why we have a dedicated team to handle all of the medical billing for you.
Another concern for dentists is how to pick the right appliance for their patient. At Devdent, we continue to study every oral appliance on the market so we can confidently suggest the best devices. Because the last thing any dentist wants to do is prescribe treatment and have it create more issues. We also cover this in our two-day CE course so that you can see hands-on how appliances work.
We also interact with dentists that believe they are not qualified or in a place to talk about sleep with their patients. Most assume that MD’s are the only equipped professionals able to speak about sleep health with their patients. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Due to a rapid drop in the number of sleep specialists across the country, there are not enough MD’s to screen and test patients for sleep-disordered breathing. As a result, one in five people goes undiagnosed with some form of sleep-disordered breathing. With no sign of it decreasing, dentists need to get educated and screen their patients for risk factors more than ever.
What solutions are available to dentists who are hesitant?
At Devdent, our dental sleep coaches receive questions from practices all over the country during expert calls. Our coaches help to guide the dentist to the correct starting point. They also answer any questions that the dentist may have. So for any dentist still hesitant we suggest they schedule a call. They can also watch on-demand webinars about dental sleep, located on our website and Facebook page.