Offering Sleep Apnea Treatment is Nothing to Snooze on
By: Jackie Ulasewich
This article originally appeared in the October/2018 issue of the Academy of General Dentistry’s AGD Impact magazine.
From Google Ads to articles in professional journals, you may have noticed the growing presence of sleep dentistry. While sleep dentistry is a growing business, it’s still in its infancy. From a marketing perspective, offering sleep treatments can be a smart way to bring new business to your practice. The pain points for patients — snoring, headaches and chronic exhaustion — all affect a large portion of the population. Most people know a spouse, parent or child who snores. The American Sleep Apnea Association suggests that an estimated 22 million Americans suffer from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) — whether they know it or not. That’s a whole lot of people who are in need of help, creating a unique opportunity for you and your practice.
Go Big or Go Home
Some dentists choose to start by offering sleep treatments in their own practice. While that’s acceptable, most industry leaders agree that it’s best to take that leap of faith and start a new division dedicated to sleep dentistry. The benefits of creating a new sleep division include:
- Having a name and brand that includes the word “sleep” will be clearer and resonate more with people who suffer from OSA symptoms.
- Potential patients will have a dedicated website to visit in order to review symptoms and possible treatments. This is far more effective than a blurb on your dental practice’s site.
- An online presence can be created for your sleep practice, separate from the general practice. This would include its own Google listing, Facebook page, local business listings and online reviews.
- Social media marketing can be dedicated to educating people about the symptoms and the solutions that dentistry can provide.
- Because few people know what dentistry has to do with OSA, it’s hard for them to connect the dots when they see an ad associated with a dental practice. Facebook or Google Ads for a business whose name includes “sleep” will eliminate the confusion.
Start With Who You Know
Whether you choose to add sleep dentistry to your general practice or create a secondary sleep practice, you should start with your current patients. They already know and trust you, and once they understand the connection between dentistry and sleep, they’ll be happy to receive help from someone they trust. Cross-promoting your new sleep practice is important. Using your current email list, Facebook page, blog posts and website will make current patients aware of your new service or dedicated sleep center.
You should also build a network of professionals who will refer their own patients and clients to you. Nurture relationships with others in the health care community — such as otolaryngologists, allergy specialists and general practitioners — so they become confident in your ability to treat OSA and willing to refer your practice. Just like potential patients, these professionals will evaluate your professionalism and dedication to helping others in part by your website, reviews and Facebook page. This also makes remarketing a good idea. If a referring partner or potential patient searches online for “loud snoring” and finds your ad on Google, but doesn’t follow through with scheduling treatment, remarketing will display the ad again the next time they complete a search. Remarketing provides the perfect opportunity to stay in front of those who can help grow your new practice.
Because OSA is under-diagnosed and is not always associated with dentistry, your marketing should focus on education: the symptoms, health risks, traditional solutions such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy and alternative treatment options that your office can offer. Use relatable images that will attract attention, such as a snoring spouse. A sleep apnea quiz can also be a good marketing tool; people love taking quizzes — even if it happens to be about their sleep apnea risk factors.
However you decide to approach it, now is the time to get in on the sleep apnea game. Ultimately, it’s in the best interest of your patients not only to learn more about the symptoms and risk factors, but to know that you are the person who could potentially save their lives.