SOURCE: Concerto Internet Marketing LLC

January 05, 2011 08:30 ET

Sleep Dentists Make Resolution of Increased Sleep Apnea Awareness in 2011 Using Concerto

LOVELAND, CO--(Marketwire - January 5, 2011) - While some of us are trying to quit smoking (again) or lose that extra 10 to 20 extra pounds (again), a group of dentists across the country are making a New Year's resolution to save lives. How so? They are committed to increasing the awareness of sleep apnea in American society and are partnering with Concerto Internet Marketing to do so.

Traditionally, sleep apnea has been the exclusive responsibility of M.D.s; that is, your family physician and specialists like neurologists and pulmonologists. Screening for these patients has been somewhat difficult because the average family practice doctor usually doesn't ask (for a variety of reasons) whether or not a patient has the symptoms of sleep apnea such as chronic snoring.

Once a patient is identified as being a sleep apneic (a person who suffers from sleep apnea), he or she is usually put on a CPAP machine at night without delay, and until recent years, there wasn't much else on the radar in the way of alternative sleep apnea treatment with the exception of surgical solutions.

Then, dentists entered the fray, having insight into the concept of occlusion (how your teeth come together), and how the position of the jaw can influence the airway. They began offering oral sleep apnea and anti-snoring devices that helped patients who couldn't tolerate CPAP treatment and who didn't want surgery.

Since then, awareness of sleep apnea has been growing slowly but surely as studies such as one in the journal SLEEP in 2008 that showed that loud snorers were 10 times as likely to have atherosclerosis. That's energized doctors and dentists alike.

"I now always discuss, in my report and with my patients, whether they had loud, steady snoring. If they did, I recommend treatment, usually with an oral appliance, sometimes with CPAP," said Dr. Lisa Shives, a sleep expert who authored an article about snoring for CNN Health.

"As a dentist, I feel like I have an opportunity to bridge the gap so to speak, and help catch more cases of sleep apnea," says Corpus Christi sleep dentist Dr. Don Lowrance. "They're in my chair, and it doesn't take that much time to ask some simple questions that tell whether or not a sleep study is warranted."

"'Has anybody ever told you that you snore?'" asks Omaha sleep apnea dentist, Dr. Roger Roubal. "It's a simple question, but by asking it, we're potentially saving lives in the dental office."

Twenty years ago, dentists formed the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, a dental off-shoot of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, which has been around since 1975, and its numbers have grown steadily since then. The AASM boasts a membership of more than 8,000 physicians, researchers, dentists, and other health care professionals. They are committed to promoting a high standard of care for sleep apnea and other sleep disorders.

Even Dr. Oz has jumped on the sleep apnea bandwagon, recently in his show, explaining the difference between snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. According to Dr. Oz, the best solutions are to lose weight and then consider surgical solutions; secondarily, Dr. Oz mentioned CPAP and finally oral appliances to pull the mandible forward.

But most doctors, much less this small group of dentists, don't have their own T.V. shows, so their plan of attack to build sleep apnea awareness involves a grassroots campaign, and of course, the Internet. That's where a Colorado Internet marketing consultant has found a niche market. Jonathan Fashbaugh has been marketing dental practices online since 2004, and in 2009, he discovered that he suffered from sleep apnea. He noticed that his clients were offering dental sleep apnea treatment and began to help these dentists promote their sleep apnea and snoring services more aggressively, alongside their more mainstream cosmetic dentistry services.

"It's almost funny calling what my clients and I are doing 'marketing,'" says Fashbaugh. "We're spreading the word that snoring is a symptom of a deadly disease, and that by treating it, you can vastly improve your quality of life. More than 18 million people suffer from sleep apnea according to the AADSM. In my opinion, sleep apnea is every bit as important as any specific type of cancer or multiple sclerosis. It's just not as popular a cause."

"I'm seeing a growing demand in my patient base, but a lot of the appliances I'm making are for CPAP patients that can't stand their mask and whatnot, so they're going to Google and looking for other options," reports Dr. Mark Weiser, a Santa Barbara dentist who treats sleep apnea and snoring.

While not all of Jonathan Fashbaugh's clients (his company is called Concerto Internet Marketing LLC) offer sleep apnea treatment, the majority do, and are promoting it as a primary service, even going so far as to have websites dedicated to sleep apnea treatment. They're getting the word out to patients by marketing their practices on the search engines like Google, and through other online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and an online patient management company called DemandForce. Whatever it takes, this group of dentists and others nationwide are determined to make 2011 a banner year for sleep apnea awareness.

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