How to prepare your patient for next steps in obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) treatment for a successful SomnoDent journey.
One of the most important keys to success in your patient’s OSA treatment is themselves. Or rather, their compliance. From wearing the device to proper storage and a sleep journal, the outcome of using an oral appliance for sleep apnea will depend on the individual person using the device.
DELIVERING THE CASE
Block out 30 minutes for the delivery appointment. Have an assistant work with the patient to try the appliance in and ensure that it fits. Do the same for the morning repositioner/AM aligner. Review the instructions on how to use each one, in addition to providing the patient with written instructions. This will help prevent care steps from accidentally being missed or misunderstood.
CLEANING THE APPLIANCE
It is extremely important that you review how to clean the appliance with your patient. You can find cleaning and device information in the Instructions for Use inside the case box.
Clean the appliance immediately after it is removed, rinsing it with lukewarm or cold water and a soft brush. Submerge the appliance in water with a SomTab. After 15 minutes, remove it and rinse it thoroughly before storing it for the day.
Be sure to start your patient off with plenty of SomTabs for gentle and thorough cleaning from the very beginning of treatment. If for any reason your patient runs out of SomTabs between their orders, they can temporarily use a mild dish soap, distilled vinegar, or 1/4 of a denture cleaning tablet. Products with active oxygen could damage the appliance and void the warranty. You can order SomTabs for your office by clicking the link below.
Access SomTabs for Your Dental Practice | SomTabs
Depending on the type of appliance being made, it must be stored in specific ways. AIR+ products should be stored in a dry case, and all other SomnoMed appliances should be stored in a container filled with clean, fresh water. These directions are extremely important, as it will prevent corrosion, discoloration, and damage to the materials that make up the device.
Other Helpful Advice:
- To get the most out of a SomnoDent appliance, store it away from direct sunlight and never use any abrasive kinds of toothpaste.
- During cleaning, always use room temperature or slightly warm tap water. Hot or boiling water could cause the appliance to warp and no longer fit.
- Remind your patient to brush and floss thoroughly before wearing the device, as this will limit bacterial buildup.
- When traveling, always store the SomnoDent appliance in a carry-on bag. Not only will this prevent it from being accidentally lost, but it will also prevent it from being exposed to extreme temperatures in the cargo area of the flight. To avoid any security stops, store the device in a dry container until you finally reach your destination, and then water can be added again.
- If traveling by car, remember to not leave your sleep appliance in a vehicle during warmer months due to extreme temperatures.
COMPLETING THE CASE
After the assistant has gone over the instructions, they should be reiterated by the dentist when he or she is checking the final fit.
At this stage, it is also important to review any warnings to be on the lookout for, such as:
- Jaw soreness
- Increased salivary flow
- Dry mouth
- Sore teeth or irritation of the soft tissues
- Changes in the bite
Obtain a signed consent form, if you haven’t already. Fortunately, most of these side-effects will diminish after about an hour of removing the device. If the patient continues to have problems or questions, ask them to call your office directly instead of the appliance manufacturer.
Once all of the records are completed, a copy of the progress notes should be sent to the patient’s referring physician.
While you can show your patient how to adjust his or her own appliance, SomnoMed highly recommends performing all adjustments in your practice. This extra step nurtures the patient-doctor relationship and allows you to better oversee the patient’s compliance and response to treatment.
Ongoing maintenance visits should initially be set at one, three, and six-month intervals after the delivery of the sleep appliance. Ask that your patient complete a sleep log to track their quality of rest and how they feel the next day. They should bring the log to each follow-up appointment. At the six month visit, ask that your patient bring a written testimonial, which you can also share with the referring provider.
After each follow-up appointment send an update to the patient’s referring physician(s). Taking simple steps such as updates, testimonials, and thank-you letters not only increase the likelihood of secondary referrals, but they also provide an avenue of having other providers reinforcing your patient’s compliance with their treatment. The team approach can also motivate your patient to follow through with a sleep study to measure their response to COAT.
BILLING AND PAYMENTS
Since SomnoMed products are often covered by medical insurance (including Medicaid) you and your team will want to be up to date on filing and processing medical claims and reimbursements.
Your dedication and follow through makes COAT a simple, effective, and viable solution for your patients’ sleep apnea challenges.