Momentum Continues for Dental Sleep Medicine
When nationally renowned dental technician David Gergen, CDT, turned his attention to sleep medicine, he soon found opportunity in sleep seminars–and even football.
More than two decades ago, David Gergen, CDT, was recognized as the best dental technician in America. In 2012, Gergen is still at it, and he’s only gotten better. In 2012 Gergen was given a lifetime achievement award by the Gelb Academy as Americas greatest Orthodontic technician of all time.
Since he focused part of the business on sleep medicine a few years ago, dental sleep professionals have turned to Gergen’s Phoenix-based lab in search of the one-on-one business ties that orthodontists have long cherished.
In addition to fabricating the finest custom dental sleep appliances, Gergen crisscrosses the country to share his knowledge via comprehensive 2-day sleep seminars. “When he puts together a course, his focus is to help dentists prepare themselves and their staff to see more sleep apnea patients,” says Randy Clare, former vice president of Sales for the SleepNet Corp, now managing editor of SleepScholar (www.sleepscholar.com). “Gergen seeks to help Drs with issues like Medical reimbursement, and Medical diagnosis by putting the various stake holders together for open discussion and cooperative learning.”
In addition to honing in on crucial (and occasionally overlooked) business tactics, Gergen focuses on doctors who have already started to treat sleep patients, but who still may need a bit more knowledge and inspiration to build a successful practice. “Your average successful DME is doing about 25 CPAP setups a month,” explains Clare. “On the dental side, the number of dentists who see 25 obstructive sleep apnea patients a month is still extremely low.”
Competition is intense for traditional restorative dentistry, but burgeoning demand, combined with relatively few competitors in the dental sleep realm, can presents considerable opportunity. “It is possible to go from 1 or 2 treatments per month to 25 a month relatively quickly,” enthuses Clare, who also serves as president of DDMEOnline.com. “a dental practice engaged in treating sleep patients is really required to act as DME provider in the medical model, and providing comprehensive sleep care with a full range of treatments including CPAP, CPAP supplies, and of course oral appliances.”
Whether it’s a weight loss program or wearing a CPAP mask, treatment non compliance is an all-too-common outcome for many patients. Clare and Gergen point out that dental offices are well suited to following patients in a continuum of care model.
Dentists see patients on a regular 3- to 6-month recall with consistent follow-up. “Our message is not about getting patients to not use CPAP, it’s about being a part of the medical team,” says Clare. “Make sure patients are compliant with their CPAP. Encourage the use of fresh tubing and filters. Monitor CPAP pressures, changes in BMI and overall health. If, after best efforts, patients simply cannot comply with CPAP, work with their physician to provide other therapies or combinations of therapies, ones they can tolerate on a nightly basis. Other therapies include weight loss, body position, and oral appliances.”
Big Patients, Big Opportunity
Gergen’s first course took place in Sonoma, Calif, with 17 participating offices. In Phoenix, the number grew to 50. The next meeting in Minneapolis could top 150, and spots are still available for prospective attendees who can make the trip from June 24-25.
“We had Dr. Harold Gelb at the Las Vegas seminar,” says Clare. “Dr. Gelb is the originator of the Gelb 4/7 appliance, and for 40 years he has been increasing athletic performance though optimal jaw position. At this course, we realized that the body mass required to be a football player puts a person in the highest risk factor for OSA. The athletic performance and sleep opportunity, could be a huge niche market.”
Along those lines, Minneapolis figures to be a sports-focused event, featuring people who have worked with retired NFL players. Since sleep problems are unequivocally attached to cardiac problems, Archie Roberts, MD, a cardiologist, former NFL quarterback, and founder of the Living Heart Foundation, will detail the connection in a talk about sports excellence, overall health, and battling chronic disease. The Living Heart Foundation is the official charity of Gergen’s Academy.
Be sure to inquire about the Minneapolis Sleep Seminar. More information about the seminar can be found here.
Written By Alan Hickey
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