DR. JARED NELSON, DDS
Growing My Practice Through Sleep
Tell us a little about yourself and your practice.
I have a practice in Lethbridge called London Road Dental: Lethbridge Snoring and Sleep Apnea Clinic. I was a bit older getting into dentistry; I finished dental school at 37 and am 45 now. I’ve been in practice since 2009, starting as an associate doing general dentistry. One of the other dentists in the practice was doing a few sleep apnea appliances and when he moved to BC, I decided to carry on with it. Then when I bought the practice five years ago, I made sleep apnea treatment a primary focus.
Why did you get into sleep?
The previous dentist had talked to me about how cool it was to be able to help people that weren’t sleeping in the same room due to snoring, or suffering related health issues like high blood pressure, and to see the positive effects of treatment and patients feeling better. So many people have sleep apnea and knowing that 50% of them wouldn’t tolerate a CPAP machine, I knew there was a need. I thought it would be a great, less physically intensive, niche service that would give me the opportunity to spend some of my day really talking to my patients.
What challenges did you face?
I was always confident in the benefits of oral appliance therapy, but I knew deep down that some patients weren’t going to respond as well as we hoped, and I didn’t always know if we had the appliance at the right position. We could only go by how the patient felt and while some patients would say they felt 100% better and were clear responders, others would say they didn’t feel much different but maybe weren’t snoring quite as much. So, I was always wishing I could confidently tell them where we needed to position their jaw and if the appliance was actually working for them or not.
How has MATRx plus helped your practice?
It’s been great; I feel more confident now as a clinician to be able to treat people with the disease. It makes me more excited when I talk to patients because not only can I have them do a sleep test if they’ve never been tested, I can more confidently tell them if an appliance will work or not and where we need to move their jaw to best open their airway. It’s also saved time for us because I can put them directly at their target position and have them back for one follow up in a month, instead of frequent visits trying to figure out the right mandibular position.
We’ve had a few non-responders, which is disappointing for the patient and me, but in the same sentence it’s a good thing because now I can tell them that “this isn’t going to be as good a treatment as we need it to be for you”. So they aren’t wasting their time, energy and health on something that’s not going to be as effective as it needs to be. Patients are grateful that we’re not just selling them something that’s not going to work and that we’re really getting to the bottom of what they need and how to treat them as a patient. It just feels so much better as a clinician to be able to do the treatment the right way for these patients.
What kind of patient response have you received?
When we first got the MATRx plus, we posted the CTV News report on Facebook and got a huge response from that – we had 15-20 people booked right away for the sleep test. As I was screening more patients and talking more about it, our wait list was getting so long we had to get a second system to speed up the process. When I explain the system to them and how it works, patients think it’s really cool and are impressed with the visual results they can understand. They feel good about the treatment and so do we. It’s been great and we’ve had some amazing patient results.
What would you say to a colleague who is considering MATRx plus for their practice?
If you’re willing to screen your patients, then you’re going to find that people are anxious to try it and would rather use an appliance than a CPAP. Even those who haven’t been diagnosed before are pretty willing to get tested to either save their marriage from the snoring, or just be able to sleep better. It’s not hard to find patients. We ask every person that comes in if they have any trouble with snoring or sleep apnea or if they know anyone that does. Inevitably, everybody knows somebody that has an issue. Even with 2 systems we still have people waiting to take the test, so I just continue to get more excited about it and it’s been really great for our practice.