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Brett Brocki

Sleep Medicine represents an amazing opportunity for dental practices but many dentists get frustrated because they have trouble finding patients. The truth is, every dentist already has sleep patients, they just don’t recognize them. Sleep patients are walking through your door everyday. If you have 10 patients, statistically 2 have some degree of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). That means, for every 100 dental patients, 20 have OSA, 200 out of 1000 are OSA patients. How many are in your waiting room right now? How many will you see next week? These are people you can help live healthier, more comfortable lives by treating a serious medical condition.

Many people don’t know they have a problem. They wake up tired everyday and think that is normal. Some may suspect they have a problem, but fear of “the mask” (CPAP) is preventing them from seeking treatment. They are afraid to go to a doctor, then be diagnosed and prescribed CPAP as the only treatment option. In dental sleep medicine, we know there is a silent and convenient alternative for those who qualify: oral appliance therapy (OAT). We also know that by intervening early, when OSA is mild to moderate, we may be able to prevent the condition from progressing. Good sleep improves so many aspects of daily life: alertness, ability to concentrate and mood.

The Key: Effective Screening

The key to recognizing and treating these unseen patients is screening. It begins with asking a simple question like, “you seem tired, how are you sleeping?” From there you or a member of your staff can ask the follow up questions to determine if they suffer from OSA and could benefit from Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). They key is to build screening into your existing workflow. Get your whole team involved. With the right training and techniques, each patient interaction can lead to a screening, and as we know, 1 out of 5 screenings lead to sleep patients. By starting the conversation you can help educate your patients about how serious OSA is, how it affects their existing conditions, and how it can get worse if left untreated. There are patients in your office who need help. Let’s make a difference together.

Brett Brocki is CEO of N3Sleep, a national sleep consulting and training firm. If you need help getting your whole team on board screening for OSA, contact N3Sleep for in-office training for your entire staff.

Originally published in Dental Sleep Insider Magazine, December 2016

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