Just Do It: Entering the world of Dental Sleep Medicine

Detroit, 2014, a cozy hotel outside of the city…. I had just got done lecturing an Intro to Dental Sleep Medicine course and the practitioners were excited to get back to their practice and help their patients (and their spouses I should add).  One of the attendees was milling around waiting until everyone got done with their thanks yous.

When his turn finally came, he said to me, “I’ve been to two other intro courses and yours was by far the most practical one I’ve been to.  What should my next course be?”  My thought was (and barely kept it a thought), “You are going to be the most educated NON-producer of sleep appliances!!”  Now don’t get me wrong, advancing your dental sleep medicine knowledge is important, imperative actually.

What he needed to do was go back and DO it!  He hadn’t even treated one case yet!  Not even himself!! And through the course he took home a home sleep test and discovered he had severe sleep apnea!

It’s as if I needed to push him to sit on his new two wheel bike instead of learning about the design and how it’s supposed to work as taught in the manual.  Now that I had him on the bike I wanted to get him to pedal, gain his balance, find his flow and then…. LET GO!

Even in dental school we learned over and over again the proper diagnosis, treatment planning, bur choices, prep design, materials and finishing but it wasn’t until we actually worked on our first patient did we truly learn it.

Take your course, treat a handful of patients, figure out what you don’t know and THEN get more training.  And when you do I will be there to help you stay on.  Now as Nike would say, JUST DO IT!


About the Author:

Dr. Elliott grew up in Southern California but went away to a small NAIA school in Western New York where she played collegiate soccer and graduated summa cum laude from Houghton College. After graduated 5th in her class from Creighton Dental School she settled in North Idaho to begin her general dentistry career. She has a special interest in Dental Sleep Medicine and Short Term Orthodontics (Six Month Smiles). She has lectured extensively on this topic and loves to help general dentists extend this life saving service to their patients. She is an active member of her local American Dental Association society and PAC fundraising chairman for the state of Idaho. She is also a member of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine and is president and diplomate of American Sleep and Breathing Academy.

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