That’s right, I said it. If you can’t attract enough new patients to satisfy your practice needs, if you struggle to make the patients you have happy, if you’re not making much money, if you’re unwilling to adjust your fees or increase your level of service (or both) and/or if you refuse to recognize the new reality then maybe treating sleep apnea is the gimmick for you.
Of course to do so while avoiding self-loathing you’ll have to think highly enough of yourself to believe that you are more qualified than ENTs and other medical specialists who have trained their whole lives to manage airway issues (in real school where they get real degrees).
I’ve never met a busy orthodontist who engages in extra-orthodontic treatments for long (and most are smart enough to avoid these time wasters all together). If your ortho office is known for great service, great results, a caring, competent doctor and a fun environment you’ll be overrun with new ORTHODONTIC patients and won’t have time to mess about with ancillary treatments like TMD treatment or so called airway orthodontics. If you are known in town as the office that offers affordable treatment you’ll likewise be inundated with ORTHODONTIC new patients. If you refuse to be awesome or affordable (or preferably both) then you’ll struggle like many orthodontic practices do and perhaps claiming to be an airway specialist after a couple weekend courses is the way to go.
Be sure to ignore the hypocrisy of orthodontists claiming general dentists shouldn’t do orthodontics because “they aren’t properly trained and only did a weekend course in a hotel”.
Deny the fact that there is virtually no science to back up the claims that doing an RPE cures everything from breathing issues to bed wetting to low test scores. Forget that someone with REAL breathing issues may not get professional care from a qualified MD because you convince them your weekend courses make your treatment “just as effective”. Listen to those Key Opinion Leaders who are paid hundreds of thousands of dollars (a huge percentage of their income when compared to what they make in their tiny orthodontic practices) to put a shine on the litany of “new products” and “new procedures” that allow their corporate employers to sell us gullible orthodontists more stuff we don’t need and further transfer the inherent profitability of practicing orthodontics to corporate coffers. Go ahead and claim to be the “hub of the wheel” and demand to be the quarterback when it comes to dealing with the MDs who are trying to help patients in real need with real breathing problems. Feel free to put expanders in 4 year olds so you can beat the pediatric dentists and phase I orthodontists to the punch and claim those patients as your own.
Why wouldn’t you?
Well there are lots of reasons you shouldn’t and I hope you’ll ignore the hype and think it though:
- Orthodontists are well trained to do orthodontics and we are the most qualified to render this service. Stick to what you know.
- Orthodontics is the most profitable thing an orthodontist can do in our practice. (If you want to be really profitable then do ortho with brackets and wires – inexpensive ones)
- Many of us have become distracted with TMD treatment and other stupid stuff in the past and this resulted in a huge waste of both time and money. If you’ve done this in a successful practice then you know what I mean. If you haven’t discovered what this kind of distraction can cost you then please take my word for it (or ask a very busy orthodontist if you don’t believe me – don’t ask your broke buddy from residency who is still trying to get their practice off the ground while working part time as an associate for someone else to make ends meet).
- Sleep apnea treatment is just another distraction just like TMD was. Instead of wasting your time and money while wasting patients’ time and money, learn to get great ORTHODONTIC results, run on time, finish cases on time and offer great service at a price that patients perceive as valuable (this doesn’t necessarily mean a low fee – the right fee varies depending on how good you are at what you do, where you live and the demographic you’re trying to serve).
You’re smart. You’re well trained. You care about patients. Do right by your patients and offer the services you’re well trained to provide. Leave the sleep disorders to the MDs… or go back to medical school and get a real degree if you’re truly that “passionate about sleep disorder orthodontics”.
To do otherwise is rank hypocrisy.