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How to Receive Patient Referrals from Physicians for Sleep Appliances

We are hearing from dentists who have begun to screen for airway that they are sending patient referrals to physicians for sleep studies, but not receiving referrals back for sleep appliances.  While we know that the “gold standard” for treating obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is CPAP, research also shows that sleep appliances can work well for patients with mild to moderate sleep apnea and usually have a higher compliance rate.

The numbers are staggering.  There are approximately 52 million people in the US that suffer from sleep disorders, with $20 billion per year spent on health care for sleep disordered breathing.  They also estimate $100 billion in productivity is lost per year.  With these numbers, why is it so difficult for dentists to receive referrals from physicians?

Dr. Ken Berley, with over 35 years in general dentistry, and as a practicing attorney, has learned how to work with the medical profession the hard way.  He sent 82 patient referrals out before he received his first one back.  His definition of success in dental sleep medicine was when the sleep physician called him on his cell phone.  He is now sharing what he learned, with steps you can begin the next day, in this prerecorded webinar entitled “How to Implement Dental Sleep Medicine”.

Ken_Berley_Dr 2During this webinar he will answer:

  • Where to get the patients (both diagnosed and undiagnosed)
  • If undiagnosed, how do you get them diagnosed
  • Should you refer to sleep physician for PSG
  • How to get Rx’s to treat patients

He will share that you should:

  • Find failures
  • Screen patients
  • Send intake exam that documents TMD (OSA / TMJ screening)

With his insights, Whip Mix now offers an even easier option for screening that addresses the top two conditions he mentions – cardiac activity and oxygen saturation.

NoninThe Nonin high-resolution pulse oximeter is now available as a stand-alone option that can be used with ProFox software.  We also offer the Nox T3 hst system for those that want to use a type 3 unit for communicating with medical physicians.

It is nice to be able to hear from someone who has experienced similar challenges.  With the lessons learned from Dr. Berley, more patients may be able to benefit from sleep appliances to stabilize cardiac activity and improve disordered breathing during sleep.

PS:  Dr. Ken Berley and Dr. Steve Carstensen will be leading a Dental Sleep Medicine Conference at the ADA meeting Sept 4 – 5, 2019 in San Francisco.  Those attending will receive a free copy of their new book “The Clinician’s Handbook of Dental Sleep Medicine.”  I have already signed up to attend, and if you go, let’s chat on what is working and what’s not in your practice. I can be reached at

Lorena Lighthart

Lorena Lighthart is the Product Manager for the Clinical products division at Whip Mix. She has worked in the dental industry for over 30 years. Lorena works with a myriad of experts in the field to bring new products to market that support functional occlusion, esthetics, and healthy sleep.