Without question one of the hottest (and maybe even confusing) topics in dentistry is dental treatment for obstructive sleep apnea.

It can be confusing and daunting when choosing a training program.  There are many camps, politics, and modalities of treatment out there.  Quite honestly, it is almost ‘religous like’ when it comes down to it.  Ultimately this confusion leads many people to not getting started.

Let me start by dividing the education into components for you (from my perspective).  Ultimately there are several types of learning and components to the education and training needed to put it into use.

Scientific Education

This is education that is purely focused on the what’s and why’s of obstructive sleep apnea.  Quite frankly, this is a never ending, continuous journey.  There will always be scientific learning necessary.

In my opinion the scientific learning is best learned at the scientific meeting – AADSM and ASBA are examples of this.  Of course it’s nearly 2020 so Google, YouTube, FaceBook, and various online learning modalities can also fulfill this.

Learning the science is very important, but it can be a bit boring and lead to ‘paralysis from analysis’.  My suggestion is don’t get stuck in only learning the science.

Typically scientific education is done in a large audience format with minimal interaction and discussion.

Implementation Education

This is where the rubber meets the road.  This type of education is about actually putting into practice a proven, tested workflow that produces actual treatment.

I believe that the implementation education is where most dentists fail with sleep apnea therapy.  They focus on the scientific education and never really take education that is solely focused on implementation.  More importantly, implementation is somewhat useless if your TEAM is not involved.  After all, the team members are the ones doing the heavy lifting.

Sleep apnea therapy has so many moving parts – awareness, diagnosis, physician coordination, medical billing, treatment, follow up, and more.  It is daunting to try and implement this into your practice without developing a step by step workflow.

Ideally, implementation education is done as a team in a small group environment that encourages interaction, discussion, and allows for planning.

With bias, I highly recommend our Sleep Apnea Implementation programs at 3D Dentists.  Our programs cover the basic fundamental science, but place a heavy emphasis on practical implementation strategies.  Our Sleep 101 seminar is led by Dr. Erin Elliott and she does a wonderful job of sharing how her team implements sleep apnea therapy in her practice.  I lead the Sleep Apnea in the CEREC practice workshop.

So the truth is that you need both types of education.

As dentists we are mostly focused on learning the science, but all to often forget to spend time putting together the strategies to actually implement the science into the busy general practice.