One or more of these seven common mistakes may be to blame. When you decided…
We all know that Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders are a silent health epidemic that is touches every corner of this country. The problem is very real and yet many of the patients we see every day are totally unaware they are in danger. As practitioners of Dental Sleep Medicine, we know that OSA and other Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders are commonly associated with very serious medical conditions like obesity, alzheimer’s, diabetes, hypertension, heart-failure, depression and stroke. That’s why we know it is crucial to get screened and tested if you have any symptoms.
But herein lies the problem: how do we get patients to see how serious OSA and other Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders are? Many dentists screen their patients but struggle getting them to agree to testing.
The Struggle is Real
What is your screening procedure? Do you hand the patient a tablet when they are sitting in the chair? Do you ask them fill out a form online? A clipboard with the screening questions before their appointment? How successful is this?
By asking these important screening questions indirectly you’re not just being lazy, you’re telling the patient that they are number to you; a patient, a client, a page in the file or a line on spreadsheet. In short, it’s impersonal. It’s not genuine. It’s not real.
You already talk to them about their families. You know the names of their children because you treat them. If you want them to understand how important healthy sleep is to their life, you need to ask them personally. It shows how important their health is to you, as their dentist and care provider. This disrupts their thinking. A dentist asking them about things that are not directly related to the dental health. It makes him stop and think. This is different. This is important.
Asking the screening questions personally does a very important thing. It shows the patient that you actually care about their health and about them as an individual. They are not a number but a real person, patient whose health and wellbeing matter. You care about their health. You care about their life. Knowing that you care will open their minds to hearing about treatment options. Your conversation about treatment will be real. You are not selling something, you are helping people.
It’s a simple but very important distinction in your screening process. Ask the questions in person. It shows that you care. You want to help them live healthier lives. We do this to help people. As dentists, we care about every patient. We want them to be healthy and live healthy full lives – with beautiful smiles of course. And the thing is, you smile more when you’re well rested and in good health. Sleep medicine is one more way to help your patients smile more.
Roy Novick is theSenior Vice President of Clinical Training for N3Sleep. After 35 years practicing dentistry, Dr. Novick helps dental practices across the country implement effective, successful dental sleep medicine programs.
Originally published in Dental Sleep Insider Magazine, March 2017