How to get your whole team on board with dental sleep medicine.
The prevalence and under-treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in the general population is alarming. To begin, an estimated 30 million Americans suffer from the disorder, yet 80% of those cases remain undiagnosed.1 Couple that with the fact that the population of Americans age 65 and older—an age group at high risk for OSA—is projected to more than double from 46 million to over 98 million by the year 2060.2
For those who have been diagnosed with OSA, continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is the accepted gold standard for treating the condition. However, low adherence rates mean many patients remain ineffectively treated, leaving them at risk for a host of associated comorbidities and in need of an alternative option. The convergence of these realities provides dentists a golden opportunity to help address this public health epidemic by incorporating dental sleep medicine (DSM) and the administration of oral appliance therapy (OAT) into their dental practices.
When implemented correctly and strategically, DSM can be exciting and rewarding—financially and otherwise. In addition to providing a profit center, DSM has the potential to save lives and save relationships. For me personally, the reward comes in the form of patients who are happy to see me when I walk into an appointment. As dentists know, that’s frequently not the case when walking into a dental operatory.
In this article, I will offer advice about how to get the whole team on board so that DSM is a bona fide profit center—not just a hobby.
Staffing a DSM Practice
It doesn’t take many team members to get sleep going in a dental practice. The key roles in any successful DSM practice are going to be: the dentist, a sleep assistant, a patient coordinator, and a medical insurance coordinator. For practices just starting out, one person may even be able to take on two or three of the roles, until patient load requires further separation of responsibilities.…