As a dentist, you can dramatically impact your patient’s lives by changing the quality of their sleep.
Snoring and obstructive sleep apnea can disrupt your patient’s sleep and increase the risk of serious health problems. Integrating dental sleep medicine into your practice can also be a way to increase revenue. The practice of dental sleep medicine is becoming more popular, especially among dentists who want to provide a more holistic approach to treating their patients, to differentiate themselves from other dental practices, and to diversify and grow their practice revenue.
Almost a billion people worldwide and 20% of Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)1. Many of those people have been prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine; however, less than half of them are non-compliant. The alternative? Oral appliance therapy (OAT) — prescribed by a dentist. Dental sleep appliances are ideal for patients who:
- Have mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- Are CPAP intolerant or prefer a sleep oral appliance to CPAP
- Would like a treatment for snoring
A dental sleep appliance is like a sports mouth guard or bruxism appliance (to prevent or mitigate teeth grinding). A bespoke dental sleep appliance effectively prevents the airway from collapsing by moving the lower jaw and tongue to a more forward, protrusive position. Zephyr has supported a number of dentists across North America as they begin their journey into dental sleep medicine. We have created this 45 min. video/webinar – Sleep Dentistry 101: How to get started and grow revenue for your practice.
For some dentists, medical billing is seen as a barrier to implementing dental sleep medicine in their practice. However, home sleep studies and oral appliance therapy is almost always covered by medical insurance using the same criteria that is used for coverage of continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
For a dentist to prescribe therapy to treat sleep apnea, a sleep study is required in order to diagnose the patient with sleep apnea. Many payers (insurance companies) require this as well. Depending on the jurisdiction, it is important that the dentist build partnerships with referring sleep physicians to prescribe, implement, and interpret the sleep study. However, in other jurisdictions, a sleep physician is required only to interpret the sleep study.
Coverage and guidelines vary by jurisdiction – please check our sleep testing appliance therapy billing guidelines for more details.
If you decide to pursue dental sleep medicine, you are responsible for:
- Recognizing oral signs and symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)
- Identifying and screening patients who snore or may suffer from OSA
- Educating patients on potential sleep-disordered breathing issues
- Encouraging patients to undertake a home sleep test, if their pre-screening indicates they may be at risk
- Offering alternative treatments to CPAP and surgery
- Selecting, fitting, and providing follow-up care of oral sleep appliances
- Training your practice team members to support you in the dental sleep medicine journey
You and your practice team can receive formal training and continuing education credits in dental sleep medicine by attending courses run by certified practitioners. Education helps shorten the time to first value; the moment when you see exactly what you can accomplish with sleep. The Smart Sleep Protocol is a technology-driven educational journey that provides a new experience in dental sleep education for partners, doctors, and their teams to ensure they experience early and continued success throughout their sleep journey. The Smart Sleep protocol teaches a simple, proven, predictable team-driven sleep workflow.
To register for a course or view the 2020 schedule, please visit CharkEducation. To find out more about how your practice might benefit by implementing Zephyr’s MATRx™ plus system, please read more here.
Sources: 1 Benjafield, A.V., Ayas, N.T., Eastwood, P.R., et al, “Estimation of the global prevalence and burden of obstructive sleep apnoea: a literature-based analysis”, Lancet Respir Med 2019, pp 1-12, published online July 9, 2019, Copyright 2019 Elsevier Ltd.