A note: from Jason: Dr. Kent Smith has built THE most prodigious sleep practices in the world, showing us all what possibility looks like. He’s a novelist and a revered lecturer. Dr. Smith is also an accomplished scuba diver; doting father; loving grandfather; and the founder of the annual Sleep Roundtable meeting in Dallas. Oh, and he looks dapper in a fedora.

—Jason Tierney

Aside from medical billing, which has been chronicled extensively as the number-one hurdle, I have become convinced that the most elusive trait that leads to success is the ability and willingness to embrace change. This characteristic has many tentacles, which I will attempt to cover in a few words.

1. Let’s begin with your help-wanted ad. I prefer sleep team members with no dental experience. Having a team member pulled away to help the dentist with a composite is the death knell for sleep growth.

2. Delegation is key. Many dentists already struggle with this in the dental world, but medicine almost demands it. Considerable delegation is permitted and should be championed. States vary with the scope of delegation, but ideally, you would sidle up to the boundary and make nice.

3. Communicate extensively. This is a paradigm change for the majority of dentists. We were not taught in dental school to send letters to health care practitioners listed on the health histories of our patients.

a) This is particularly true for any provider who refers a patient to you. If you never want that doctor to refer to you again, then don’t send a note explaining how you treated your common patient.

4. Change your concept of occlusion. I have heard my share of dentists who decide not to pursue dental sleep medicine because it goes against whatever occlusion camp gave them a diploma. Bites will change. A Class III Angle position has never caused a stroke. Lack of oxygen during sleep can.

5. If you plan on transitioning eventually to a sleep-only practice, you will need to change your perception of how you rank among the dental elite. Many dentists think, perhaps rightfully so, that no other dentist could treat their patients with the skill and compassion with which they were blessed. If this reverberates, it’s time to, as Elsa would sing, “Let It Go.” Incidentally, this is a close cousin to the delegation change mentioned earlier.

It is my wish that every dentist would take a proactive approach to helping the millions of undiagnosed and untreated patients out there. Please do your part to save lives, heal relationships, and extend careers.


Are you looking for a Dental Sleep Meeting that’s outside the ordinary? Perhaps you’ve been treating patients for a while, and you’re ready for a next level event. If so, I look forward to meeting you at Dr. Smith’s Sleep RoundTable in Frisco, TX October 19 – 21.

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