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Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a problem that affects an approximate 30 million people in the United States, yet only a small percentage are receiving proper care for their condition.  Dentists are a valuable resource to the patients who are seeking treatment alternatives.

Adding Dental Sleep Medicine to your practice is crucial in three ways.  First, you will have the opportunity to help fill a “hole in the market” for Obstructive Sleep Apnea therapy.  Second, you and your team will be providing your patients with a higher standard of comprehensive care.  Third, you will be offering a service that is not only fiscally rewarding, but morally rewarding.  The benefits will resonate through every facet of your office.

The “gold standard” of care is the CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine.  By increasing the pressure inside the airway, it prevents collapse from outside factors like the tongue, soft palate and excess weight around the neck.  While there are no therapy options more effective than CPAP, about 50% of patients prescribed one are failing to use it to the standard of care, if they are using it at all.

So where does this leave patients who are seeking better sleep and better health, but cannot tolerate the treatment they have been prescribed?

Oral Appliances are a highly effective, non-invasive treatment modality for those patients who have failed CPAP use, or are tested at levels too low to require more aggressive therapy.  When diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, many physicians only give the patient one option for care, independent of the severity of the condition.  By bringing Dental Sleep Medicine into your practice, you will be able to assess each case and provide appropriate care to each patient based on their individual needs.

The good news?  All the skills required to fabricate one is already in your and your team’s wheelhouse as dental providers.  The best news?  Only dentists are allowed to fabricate Oral Appliances, allowing you to step in and help bridge the gap between proper diagnosis and proper care.

Adding new options to your “menu” of services is a valuable way to grow your practice, add production and include new, innovative ways to care for your patients’ overall health.  Dental Sleep Medicine is a subject patients, dentists and sleep physicians have been talking about more and more.  The signs and symptoms of Obstructive Sleep Apnea are everywhere.

As a dental health provider, you have an incredibly unique view into this condition … directly at the site of the obstruction, the throat!  So many indications are right in the mouth, a place that no other health provider diagnosing this condition looks at with any knowledge.  You and your team look here all day, every day, opening the opportunity to recognize OSA in your patients on a daily basis.

The dental issues you address the most, bruxism, porcelain failure, acid erosion, are all signs of Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  Identifying these patients immediately will uncover that nearly 25% of your existing patient base has Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and the large portion that are diagnosed but not using their CPAP.

Sleep plays an enormous role in maintaining our bodies.  We rely on it to restore our muscles, vital organs, brains and emotional health.  When you are not getting proper sleep, the risks are high and costly.  In additional to physical breakdown, like heart attack, stroke and hypertension, you are at a higher risk for depression.

By identifying and treating sleep apnea early, patients can prevent not only many of these health issues, but social issues as well.  An estimated 25% of people sleep in separate bedrooms because of snoring, a sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and putting massive strain on relationships.

Both treating patients and finding patients the correct treatment plan will help your patients achieve overall health as well as mend emotional issues.  Providing patients with a therapy that not only works, but allows them to be closer to loved ones is a rewarding mission.  As dentists and dental providers, you are used to patients being afraid, in pain, or enduring procedures they would rather not have to go through.

When providing patients with high quality Dental Sleep Medicine, you are treating patients who want to be there and are grateful for both the services you are providing as well as the outcomes it will yield.  It feels good for a patient to tell you that you have saved their marriage, that they are closer to their families because they can finally stay awake, that they are getting a promotion at work because of increased productivity.

Sleep apnea is not a condition that is getting better in the United States.  Being a qualified provider of sleep apnea therapy will be a benefit to your patients and the public alike.  Many patients are searching for alternative therapies to their CPAPs as we speak.

All types of practices will benefit from adding Dental Sleep Medicine.  It fits comfortably into the schedule, can be spear headed from team member in order to keep the doctor’s burr turning and reaps generous rewards.  Implementing it is a matter of clear systems and protocols, as well as communication office wide.

Being a Medicare DME (Durable Medical Equipment) provider is an opportunity for you to improve your direct to consumer marketing, build your patient base and develop referral relationships with the healthcare providers in your community.

As a Medicare DME provider, you would be opening your Sleep Apnea patient base to include those 65 and older, allowing you to help more potential apnea sufferers and expand your direct to consumer marketing base.  Medicare covers oral appliances for patients who fall into the mild and moderate Obstructive Sleep Apnea category or those who have tried and failed CPAP, a “target” potential patient base.  Many Medicare patients have been prescribed a CPAP even though they may have been diagnosed as having mild OSA or even primary snoring.  An estimated 60% of patients fail CPAP, meaning there is a large group of diagnosed apnea suffers either unaware there is something else they can try or actively seeking alternative treatment.  By becoming a provider with Medicare, you can help your patients of record, people responding to direct to consumer “Hate Your CPAP” marketing and physicians looking to make connections with healthcare providers that can give their patients a safe, effective, FDA approved alternative.

By marketing towards “CPAP failure” patients, internally and externally, you will begin to identify the sleep physicians in your community through reviewing their sleep studies.  Reaching out to these offices is beneficial to you in two ways.  Many of these physicians have lost track of the patient sitting in front of you.  When you begin to treat the patient and interface with their diagnostic physician, you bring them back to that office, not only providing this patient with the highest standard of care, but improving another healthcare provider’s practice.  This physician is not only an asset in treating the individual patient, but will open you up to a referral relationship with them, especially when you are a provider for the insurance that most of their patients have, Medicare, growing your Sleep Apnea practice exponentially.

Becoming enrolled with Medicare is not as scary as you think!  First, you would be enrolled solely as a Durable Medical Equipment provider, meaning that it would not affect billing for any of the dental procedures that you are performing in your practice.  Second, your medical biller can bill Medicare claims for you as soon as you get your provider number, or PTAN.  Third, DSM Solutions can help you apply.  Filling out the application can get complicated.  We are experienced with the system for applying to be provider and the information required to get you approved quickly and efficiently.

If you have any questions about how being a Medicare DME would work with your practice structure, marketing to attract these patient, interfacing with physicians or are seeking help with your application, please give us a call.  We are looking forward to continuing to help you expand your practice.