What Clinical Sleep Courses Aren’t Teaching



As a dentist, you might picture your career focusing solely on fillings, root canals, and even implants, but there is another area of healthcare that is worth looking into – sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a common but serious medical condition that affects roughly 30 million Americans, of which only 6 million have been diagnosed. This means 24 million people are living with a chronic condition that stops them from breathing throughout the night, and they may not even be aware of it. With such a large number of potential patients, it’s no wonder dentists are adding sleep medicine to their practices. 

While CPAP devices are the most well-known treatment for severe OSA, dentists are using Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) as an alternative treatment for mild to moderate sleep apnea with great success. This alternative to CPAP has a higher adherence rate, with 93% of patients continually using them, compared to CPAP’s 30%. Dentists who implement sleep medicine have the potential to 5x their income while working only a few extra hours per week. 

You might be wondering why not all dentists are involved in sleep if it’s so lucrative. Is it too good to be true? 

Why ‘Sleep Doesn’t Work’ for Some Dentists

Many dentists around the country have discovered the benefits of sleep medicine implementation and have attended seminars, enrolled in courses, and learned nearly everything they can about sleep medicine. However, not all of these dentists have been successful in their sleep endeavors.

There’s a simple explanation for this – in the majority of courses, dentists are only taught the clinical side of sleep, not the business side. Imagine going to culinary school to learn to cook and opening up a restaurant after graduation with zero idea of how to run one. That’s what’s happening to these dentists with their sleep medicine education. They know how to take impressions and work with sleep doctors to diagnose their patients, but they don’t learn the proper business strategies to build, run, and grow a sustainable, predictable, profitable practice.

Operating a dental sleep practice is vastly different from running a general dentistry practice, and it comes with its own challenges. One of these challenges includes the reimbursement process. Without the proper systems in place, insurance won’t always cover OSA treatments, and patients are left to pay for them out of pocket. Then there’s the matter of testing patients for these sleep disorders – who prescribes these tests? Do dentists prescribe them, or would they have to work with a sleep doctor? These are the kind of questions that dentists ask themselves after their clinical sleep medicine courses. They may know how to create the perfect oral appliance for their patient, but they may not know how to bill these appliances – or even how to find more patients after they’ve delivered their first appliance. These are just some of the snags dentists commonly run into when implementing sleep medicine, and they often stop a dentist right in their tracks. But, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Putting the Business of Sleep First with International Academy of Sleep (IAOS)

To bridge the gap between starting a dental sleep medicine practice and success, the International Academy of Sleep (IAOS) model encompasses clinical sleep medicine education with the right business strategies to efficiently and sustainably run a successful practice. This model is applied throughout the various programs IAOS offers, so dentists have a well-rounded understanding of the dental sleep field in and out of the chair. Since every dentist’s sleep journey is different, so should their education and practice development. From 2-day courses held in-person to encourage networking and relationship building to a 4-year intensive program, IAOS has the resources to help dentists achieve success in sleep and maintain it. And while all of these programs are value-packed options, the Dental Sleep MBATM 4-year program is the only comprehensive program of its kind.

Through the Dental Sleep MBA™, dentists learn how to properly run a sleep practice, how to generate over 20 patients a month, and how to secure reimbursements of up to $3,000 per appliance. Our instructors have all gone through the process of opening up their own sleep practice and are familiar with the trial and error process – one that with the right training, you wouldn’t have to endure. Dentists are given 1:1 coaching so no matter where they are in their journey, they’ll always have a personalized plan for development. 

How You Can Set Yourself Up for Success

If you want to become the go-to dental sleep expert in your area, we make it super easy. Start by joining us at one of our 2-day Blueprint courses. Whether you’re a sleep novice or have experience in the field, you’ll learn from some of the best dental sleep experts in the industry, teaching you how to successfully implement sleep into your practice. During the Blueprint, you’ll not only get clinical education on dental sleep, but you’ll also discover the right business strategies to run a sustainable, profitable practice. You’ll also get to know other dentists in the sleep field with whom you’ll build lasting and meaningful relationships; you never know who your next partner could be. 

A Deep Dive into Dental Sleep Medicine

If you’re the kind of learner who prefers hands-on, 1:1 attention and instruction, you’ll want to get the most out of your Blueprint experience with our optional Over-The-Shoulder sessions, where you go to a real dental sleep practice and see what it’s like to run a successful operation! This is your opportunity to go inside the practices of one (or two) 7-figure sleep practitioners in Austin, Texas: Dr. Chad Denman and Dr. Brandon Hedgecock. You’ll get firsthand experience seeing these doctors and their teams in action, behind-the-scenes in a real-life sleep dentistry setting. After all, seeing is believing. To learn more about upcoming opportunities to learn with IAOS, please visit our events page for dates and details.

Further Reading