Home 2024 Sleep Dentistry Issue Blue Ocean: The Dental Sleep Mastery Blueprint

Blue Ocean: The Dental Sleep Mastery Blueprint

by Avi Weisfogel

Sleep Apnea is a Blue Ocean, But Dentists Aren’t Taught to Swim

Why aren’t there more success stories in dental sleep medicine? 

Though obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) was discovered in 1965, it took another 20 years or so before savvy dentists began to contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of this disorder that affects roughly 30 million people in the US.

Odds are, you’ve even attended a seminar that talked about treating sleep apnea, but despite all this training, it’s estimated that over 80% of those with OSA remain undiagnosed and/or untreated.

Patients with OSA experience ‘apneas’, or lapses in breathing throughout the night, resulting in loud snoring, morning headaches, daytime sleepiness, and lack of oxygen reaching the brain, increasing the risk of heart attack and diabetes.  

The opportunity for dentists to build profitable businesses that provide this simple, life-altering treatment to the undiagnosed is immense. And yet, while many dentists have tried to add sleep treatment to their existing general dentistry practices, the majority haven’t been able to translate this opportunity into a profitable, predictable, or sustainable business.  

This article will cover some of the biggest challenges dentists face in dental sleep medicine and how IAOS can help you find success. 

Most dentists fail at sleep. Here’s why.

After attending a sleep course, most dentists return to their practice rejuvenated and motivated to implement the strategies they learned. However, they only treat maybe 1 to 2 patients per month or spend months without seeing a single sleep patient. The dentists who do treat patients then submit their reimbursement claims to get paid for their work. Unfortunately, many claims are rejected because they haven’t been submitted correctly, though the dentists believe they were.  

Most dentists fail at sleep because they don’t understand how the sleep dentistry business differs from general practice or know the business strategies required to make sleep dentistry sustainable, predictable, and profitable. The billing process is one of the aspects of dental sleep medicine that differs greatly from general dentistry, resulting in rejected reimbursements and less profit for the practice. 

Our flagship event, the Sleep Practice Blueprint, provides clinical and business training dentists need to prevent this and details for proven ways to increase their reimbursement rate by as much as 300%, working only an extra 4-6 hours per week. In comparison, most dental sleep courses only cover the clinical aspects of sleep like symptoms, side effects, and treatment, which explains why many dentists get frustrated with sleep as a whole.

Just 20 sleep patients per month can change your business – and your life.

Imagine for a moment…what would 20, 50, or even 100 Sleep patients mean for your business – and your life? Some sleep doctors can generate more revenue by working two days per month than some general practitioners could hope to generate in a year. 

One such example is Dr. Jay Neuhaus, who like many dentists in sleep, was skeptical, tired of being sold a false bill of goods, and ready to write off sleep forever. When he discovered dental sleep medicine, he was excited about its potential to change his career but was failing to properly implement it into his practice. By the time he joined IAOS, he was in his sixties, having worked in general dentistry for over 40 years, and was severely burnt out. He was looking for a way out of dentistry, but still wanted to help his patients in some way. After attending the Sleep Practice Blueprint, and becoming an IAOS member, Dr. Neuhaus has found the escape he was looking for and has thrived in his dental sleep practice. 

“Today, I rent two operatories two days a month, and other than my beautiful wife, my only other payroll is a chairside assistant that only gets paid for two days a month. With this low overhead we’re able to help 15-20 patients a month with an average net of $4,000 an appliance.” 

Taking a look at Dr. Neuhaus’ numbers here, you’ll see:

[20 patients/month x 12 months x $4000/appliance = $960,000]

That’s an annual gross of just under $1 million!

Looking back at our question “What would 20, 50, or 100 patients per month mean for your business?” Based on an average reimbursement of $3,000 per treatment delivered, and 12 working months per annum, let’s see what could be possible for you:

20 Patients per Month

$3000 Reimbursement

$720,000 Annual Revenue

50 Patients per Month

$3000 Reimbursement

$1,800,000 Annual Revenue

100 Patients per Month

$3000 Reimbursement

$3,600,000 Annual Revenue

If you could achieve even half or just one quarter of this and generate as much as an extra $15,000 to $30,000 in revenue per month (or $180,000 – 360,000 per year), what could you do differently?

Even if you achieved 10% ($6,000 per month or $72,000 per year), we know it would still bring about a material change in your practice and could improve your quality of life.

When you follow the path you’ll discover at the International Academy of Sleep Blueprint event, you’ll see how these numbers aren’t just possible – they’re realistic, replicable, and achievable in virtually any setting whether urban center, rural community, booming economy, or recession.

The Definition of Insanity

Many of the dentists who attend an IAOS Blueprint event feel they’ve tried everything, done everything, and have nothing to show for it. 

They’ve read countless dental sleep books, attended multiple clinical seminars, approached existing patients and cold-called sleep doctors, only to find themselves desperately spending hours going down the Google rabbit hole in search of answers.  

They’ve invested hundreds of hours (and thousands of dollars) into what they hoped could get them out of their rut, and believed they would never get any of that back. 

It’s said the definition of insanity, as most would agree, is “doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results.” These dentists go through the same motions time and time again, expecting to see their sleep practice flourish, only to see it continue to fail or remain stagnant. 

As we mentioned before, most sleep courses only focus on the clinical aspects, which while very important so you can provide the best care for your patients, leaves you with nothing to help your practice as a business. Remember, your practice is a business – you can’t keep your practice open if it isn’t profitable, and this is where you can start doing something different and break that vicious cycle.

You need to start getting education on the business side of dental sleep medicine, which is where IAOS excels. At the Sleep Practice Blueprints, we teach the exact frameworks to increase your patients and revenue. We have some of the most successful sleep dentists in the industry, like Dr. Brandon Hedgecock who operates a 7-figure practice, leading these sessions. Whether you’ve barely dipped your toes into sleep or have been trying to get your sleep practice off the ground for a while, there’s something for everyone at the Blueprints.

The Big Pivot: How to Gain Control

Thanks to billing regulations and stiff prior authorizations, getting an insurer to pay for a dentally delivered oral appliance for sleep apnea requires a bit of finesse.

While it would be easy for us to say insurance companies are your enemy and don’t want you to profit…” that would be irresponsible and misleading. Yet, there are some irrefutable facts we must confront.

Fact #1: The Appliance Is a Tiny Fraction of the Process

Though the delivery of the appliance is a massive part of your patient’s journey to better sleep and better health, it’s only a small part of your overall process.

Fact #2: Only an MD Can Diagnose Sleep Apnea

While it’s possible for anyone with a diagnostic tool to evaluate a patient, delivering a dental treatment for OSA requires we follow certain protocols: 

  1. An MD must order the home sleep test, not the dentist.
  2. An MD must interpret the home sleep test, not the dentist.

While you WILL learn the mechanics of OSA diagnosis and how to interpret a home sleep test, these are steps in the process that must be completed by an appropriately credentialed MD. This is the legally compliant path to follow if you want to get paid for your work.

Fact #3: Those Referrals Just Aren’t Coming

Staying within the traditional ‘way it’s done’ model means that the maximum number of cases a dentist might see remains a static 1-2 patients per month. If you want to hit 20, 50, or 100 sleep patients per month, you need to shift the way you work in your practice.

You need to pivot.

The “Mafia Offer”

Once a sleep study has been completed, it needs to be interpreted by a sleep doctor, who would then make the determination of whether the patient had OSA and, where appropriate, prescribe a CPAP machine. The patient then takes the CPAP home, and in 34% of cases, never uses it.

Essentially, the #1 reason why you’re not treating more OSA patients right now, is because when the entire process is initiated in, and then guided by, a sleep doctor’s office…

The doctor has no use for you.

So, you may be wondering Why do sleep courses tell us to go to these types of doctors as a way to generate new sleep patients? 

The answer is simple: Just because this is how it has always been done, doesn’t mean it has to stay that way.

There’s a better way for you to change the entire process of diagnosing and treating sleep disorders, to turn it on its head, and take control to provide high-quality care to more patients – and become the go-to sleep expert that non-sleep-focused medical specialists come to rely on.

What if we started looking at ways to create massive win-win offers for the MDs we approach? Instead of asking how you can get into the system that already exists or waiting for patients to come to you, ask… 

  • What if there was an active way to help medical doctors to refer patients to you as a critical part of the treatment process? 
  • What if there was a way that all of these specialists were absolutely ecstatic to be referring patients to you? 
  • What if all of these specialists started to see you as their go-to sleep expert, filling in the blanks and providing better solutions to their patients that make them look like a hero in their patients’ eyes?
  • What if your offer to these sleep specialists was a true “mafia offer” – an offer it would be outrageous to refuse?

What Makes the IAOS Approach Different?

What we realized is, to be a successful dentist in sleep disorder treatment you can’t build your practice in a vacuum. Nearly every course in dental sleep glosses over the most critical part of sleep disorder treatment practices: teaching the fundamental business structures and systems that, implemented properly, allow you to build a patient-base geared specifically towards OSA treatment.

And no matter how many clinical CE courses you take, you’ll never actually put that information to productive, practical use without the tried-and-true business skills and processes to make it happen. 

If You Build It, They Will Come (And Other Lies)

Lie #1: Dental schools create savvy businesspeople. 

Regardless of why you attended dental school (prestige, money, impact, family pressures), you likely graduated with zero business education to get your practice off the ground. Again, having the clinical knowledge is important, but it can only take you so far without understanding how to run a business.

Lie #2: All “doctors” are created equal.

“Great to see you Dr. Jones.” It feels good to be called ‘doctor.’ To be respected. 

Yet, there’s a precedent in the medical community, a divide in respect among medicine and dentistry, that positions the DDS as somehow inferior to the MD. 

Is it fair? No. Is it going away? Also, no.

Lie #3: Dentists are doomed to “hate” dentistry.

A lot of folks who graduate dental school quickly realize that ‘drill and fill’ dentistry is not only tedious and boring but – it’s extremely draining to be the most feared or dreaded experience of your patient’s day.

Lie #4: If you build it, they will come.

As we’ve explored, opening a sleep dentistry practice is no guarantee you’ll get sleep patients. But if you follow the right process, success is almost inevitable.

You might be asking yourself, “Ok so now what?”

International Academy of Sleep’s business track is grounded not just on sound business principles, but also on ongoing iterations from seasoned sleep dentists who continue to build and evolve their successful sleep practices, teaching dentists to be actively engaged and intimately involved in the identification of patients with sleep apnea and are driving the treatment process forward. 

The International Academy of Sleep difference

International Academy of Sleep is the only sleep-based training and professional development association founded by dentists with the sole purpose of giving other dentists (like you) the tools, training, and guidance to attract a consistent stream of pre-qualified patients to your practice specifically for the treatment of OSA.

Our mission is to turn dentists into happy, healthcare entrepreneurs by showing you how to build predictable, productive, sustainable businesses in the sleep space.

Here’s how the International Academy of Sleep Practice Blueprint is different:
  • We don’t sell appliances We partner with the best suppliers in the industry so our CE students and members can select the right treatment options for their patients, and often at preferred rates.
  • We don’t sell equipment We teach you how to effectively use the equipment you’ve already invested in (or adjust to equipment that makes more sense) so you can start getting the ROI you want.
  • We don’t teach from an academic ivory tower → We support you with practical knowledge that has been proven to work, time and time again. 
  • We don’t provide cookie-cutter solutions We offer you unparalleled personalized training and support along with powerful new business techniques to help you radically change your practice..
  • We don’t give you a course, or some advice, and walk away → We invite you to join us in an active community of other dentists just like you, sharing and building on each other’s experiences and knowledge so we can be the very best in the business of sleep.  

When you attend even just a 2-day CE qualifying Sleep Practice Blueprint event with the International Academy of Sleep, you will come away with so much more than a method of delivering oral appliances. You’ll be armed with business development strategies, insights, and training on the critical changes you must make to attract exponentially more sleep patients than you’re currently seeing and help you reignite your passion for dentistry.

Where Do “Blueprints” Come From?

The International Academy of Sleep was founded on the idea that there is a way for dentists to break free from the artificial limitations, faulty business models, and inaccurate or incomplete information so pervasive in our industry.

You probably know the frustrations and pressures that come from realizing the life your practice is providing isn’t even close to what you dreamed of – or coming to the stressful conclusion that you’re far behind where you thought your retirement plan would be at this point in your life.

This is why the International Academy of Sleep exists: to help dentists achieve the level of career satisfaction and professional success they truly deserve. We made all the mistakes – and with those lemons, we made the lemonade that is the IAOS Blueprint.

One of the greatest benefits of working with a team of experts is you get the benefit of their mistakes and their effort – and you have the advantage of learning from the combined experience and effort of the entire faculty.

The Sleep Practice Blueprints give you a preview of the larger IAOS experience, and you have the opportunity to meet our incredible coaches and staff as well as network with other dentists who are in pursuit of the same thing as you: a profitable and sustainable sleep practice. 

Dentists Are Mentalists

At this point dentists have a choice: 

      1. Continue to operate in their practice as they have.


     2. Take a tiny risk and attend an IAOS Sleep Practice Blueprint event

The choice is ultimately up to each individual, but doing nothing and letting things stay the same will always be more damaging to their career than embracing a new opportunity. At International Academy of Sleep, we are passionate about helping dentists succeed. We will show them the way and support them all the way to their success – but they have to do the work. 

IAOS is reserved for those doctors who are truly dedicated to making a change in their practice, in their results, and most importantly in their quality of life. The risk I’m asking you to consider, dear reader is this: 

Are you willing to risk upending your status quo?

If you’re serious about discovering how to set up a practice that can treat 20, 50, even 100 sleep patients per month, and you’re driven to get out and become the go-to sleep practitioner in your area, then we have a seat warmed up for you – join us at our next International Academy of Sleep – Sleep Practice Blueprint event.

Your next step to success in sleep

You’ve made it this far, which means you’re already looking at your schedule and registering for the next International Academy of Sleep – Sleep Practice Blueprint so you can get the information, insights, and training to finally take your practice to heights you never before thought possible. And honestly? We’re really glad that you are.

When you attend the International Academy of Sleep – Sleep Practice Blueprint event we’ll provide the steps specifically designed to help you to:

  • Create a massive increase in the number of sleep patients you’re seeing from an inconsistent handful to a reliable 20, 50, even 100 new patients per month.
  • Experience a giant leap in the average reimbursement rate from $0 or low reimbursement to $3,000 average profit per appliance.
  • Become a confident specialist surrounded by a community of smart, passionate dental faculty and members who provide ongoing guidance and support. 
  • Get a thorough introduction to the most comprehensive, 360-degree sleep practice training program available today.
  • Eliminate all the guesswork, frustration, and trial-and-error with proven business systems.
  • Overcome the prevalence of physician bias while providing cutting edge treatment options to patients.
  • Take control of the entire process with a proven, step-by-step system that flips the traditional referral model and gets physicians and sleep labs to refer directly to you.

So, if you’re still here with us to these last lines and you’re even a little bit interested in seeing what sleep can do for your practice, this is your invitation to see what many dentists are calling “the most exciting and innovative development in the world of sleep disorder dental treatment since the invention of the oral appliance.”

Go to IAOS Events right now and register for the next International Academy of Sleep -        Sleep Practice Blueprint event.

We’ll look forward to meeting you there!

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