There are around 60 dentists per 100,000 population in the United States, and that number is, of course, growing. 100,000 is a relatively small city, about the size of Boulder, CO. If distributed evenly, that is around 1,600 patients per dental practice. Not bad! But we all know that is not how the market works in the United States. Living in Boulder you would be competing with 60 of your peers (and now big corporate chains) to acquire those patients. And, it is not an even distribution. But by expanding your Dental Continuing Education you can set your practice apart!
So why would a patient go with you instead of the 59 other options? A few of the common reasons:
- Warm & Friendly Team
- Non-Stressful Environment
- High Quality Care
- Great Reviews / Word of Mouth
- Variety of Services Offered
- Competitive Pricing
However, every dental practice is trying to achieve these things too. You can have all these qualities and it still won’t set you apart from the top 30% of practices, because they are all offering them too. But what if there was one thing that could make the difference? There is…and, that one thing is dental continuing education (CE) for Dental Sleep Medicine (DSM), Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMD) and medical billing in dentistry. Continuing Education for DSM, TMD and medical billing differentiates your practice from others and helps connect with physicians who see facial pain and sleep patients daily.
The Extra Mile
Sleep physicians and other providers are typically not aware that oral appliance therapy is covered by medical insurance (based on the same criteria as CPAP). When approaching your medical/dental colleagues, it’s important to make your dental continuing education credentials known and that your office helps patients to maximize their insurance benefits. Even in a fee-for-service office, the fact that your office “goes that extra mile” and bills medical insurance for the patient is a major plus in referring relationships especially for Sleep Apnea Appliance Therapy, TMD, and Medically Necessary Orthodontics.
In my travels hosting CE courses, the most successful dentists are always seen at dental meetings and going back and instituting the “new pearls” they learned. In fact, the most common comment I hear is “Whenever I attend a course, I realize how much more there is to learn. No matter how many I’ve gone to, I acquire tools and solutions that make a huge difference in my practice”.
You Don’t Know What You don’t Know
The main reasons to take dental continuing education courses are to further your understanding of TMJ and Sleep Breathing Disorders:
- Become better providers for your patients.
- Get different perspectives through continuing education. You don’t know what you don’t know. There’s a lot of information that you can learn from other people when you hear it from a different perspective. When you hear a different take on things, that light bulb goes off that can change your practice. I’ve seen dentists gain seemingly simple, but powerful new skills such as a technique that negates the gag reflex or a practice idea that cultivates referral relationships with physicians.
- Network to reinvigorate your passion for providing TMD and Sleep services. Each CE group takes on their own personality and each learning group takes on its own opportunity to expand as a professional network. In this industry that is relatively small, it’s great to meet dentists who are on the same journey you are and continue their journey with “like” colleagues.
In an increasingly competitive market, it’s important to let the medical community know that oral appliance therapy works and that these services are often covered by insurance. This means your patients have easier access to treatment than they normally would have to cover completely out-of-pocket. As a dentist it is vital that you understand how to properly treat and manage your sleep apnea patients. It is just as important that your team is trained in their administrative roles as well. The patients that are treated feel refreshed, rejuvenated, and renewed. It is as though you have given them their life back – while simultaneously adding new life to your dental practice!
Author: Jon Nierman, Director of CE and Business Development at Nierman Practice Management
Visit our site or call 1-800-879-6468 to learn more about options for completing continuing education. We have a variety of online and live courses for dentists, including topics such as dental sleep medicine, TMJ, craniofacial pain, and medical billing in dentistry. We also have a comprehensive, online course series for medical billing in dentistry.