Sleep medicine education for dentists is like handing a car mechanic a set of tools, showing him how to change a flat tire on a Chevy, and turning him loose to fix whatever shows up wrong on whatever car is towed in. Basic education prepares dentists and dental teams with proper vocabulary and an overview of the disorders they are asked to treat. Once dentists make the oral appliances, however, there are few opportunities where ‘what’s next?’ is a welcome question.
ASBA has a chance to fill this gap. For the dentist/dental team who has basic knowledge, some experience in treating patients, and curiosity to learn ‘what’s next’ we will provide clinical wisdom founded in solid evidenced-based science. Our aim will be to help the providers navigate through clinical and behavioral challenges that people present while in treatment.
No matter the clinical acumen, office systems must support exceptional patient experiences in order for the practice to thrive. Marketing for new patients, building rapport with professional colleagues, processing intake data and medical insurance claims, and a reasonable follow-up on therapy outcomes is all part of the effective dental sleep practice.
No matter how good the team is, clinical puzzles must be sorted out by the dentist. Going deeper into medicine than is common, gaining understanding and wisdom about sleep and pulmonary function, and having a healthy knowledge of pathophysiology are all required of the dedicated sleep dentist.
Improving the health of our community requires diagnosing physicians, lab technologists, respiratory therapists, dentists, the dental support team, and affiliated medical professionals all to see the same goals and work towards them in the most efficient, cost-effective, and productive manner.
The ASBA seeks to provide education to address these areas. We will help dental teams understand higher levels of medicine and sleep breathing related disorders. We will coach them to create office systems that have positive history in leaders’ offices. We will bring together all the sleep related professionals to gain understanding of each other’s roles, strengths, and opportunities.
Our offerings will be professional. Based on good science, but not limited to strictly what the literature currently provides, for our experience may generate contributions to the knowledge base.
We will never lose sight of the inescapable attraction of improving the health of our communities.
Steve Carstensen DDS, Bellevue Dental Sleep Medicine, Bellevue, WA