The Challenges to Offering Airway Dental that Nobody Talks About (and How to Overcome Them)

October 14, 2021

When dental practices add airway to their mix of services, they may not know quite what to expect. The truth is, there are a few challenges to adding airway that not many people talk about. We don’t want to sugarcoat things. There are definitely real challenges to overcome in this relatively new area of dentistry, especially for practices who want to make their airway wing profitable as soon as possible.

The good news is, the challenges can be overcome. We have to acknowledge the obstacle in order to overcome it. 

As you may know, offering airway is much more challenging than routine dentistry. It’s still in its infancy compared to drill-and-fill services that most dental practices provide. However, it’s well worth it once the challenges are overcome.

Here are three hidden obstacles for successful sleep dentistry, and how to overcome them:

1. The market is small (for now).

Sleep Medicine Dentistry and Airway Dental Marketing

First of all, the market for sleep dentistry is currently smaller than the market for other high-value procedures like dental implants. Yes, it’s common to hear that the market for sleep dentistry is wide open because up to 40% of the population struggles with symptoms of sleep apnea. But, if people aren’t educated about the problem, then they aren’t yet officially on the market. And we’ve found that, compared to implants, fewer potential sleep dentistry patients are aware of their problem and know about the solutions.

Overcoming this requires knowing how to articulate the problem of sleep apnea, and make it relate to your patients. We recommend learning how to use storytelling during consultations and even during conversations with your current patients. Tell them the story of a fictional person dealing with sleep apnea; share their symptoms and struggles using everyday language. Then, ask the patient if they relate to the person in the story.

Speaking of consultations, you have to take advantage of the little chair time you get for sleep dentistry at first. You’ll have fewer conversations about it in general until business begins picking up. So make sure you treat every consultation like it can lead to a life-changing appointment.

2. It takes a fiscal quarter to become profitable.

Sleep Medicine Dentistry and Airway Dental Marketing

On top of a smaller market than you might be used to, there’s the factor of time. For example, as Avi discussed in the webinar, once you are trained in sleep dentistry, expect it to take at least 90-120 before that part of your practice is profitable. 

Plus, the patient journey for airway can be longer than, say, dental implants. There are typically multiple consultations with you and their general practitioner before they feel ready to commit. And even after the procedure, you have to wait for their insurance company to come through.

If you have recently added it or know you will soon, then it could be worthwhile to set aside some savings to make up for the temporary period of unprofitability. This way, you have breathing room as you build your airway practice up.

3. Patients need plenty of education in this area before committing.

Sleep Medicine Dentistry and Airway Dental Marketing

Finally, patients don’t always understand the problem or the solution. They need someone to come alongside them and explain, much more than for routine dentistry.

So, how much do you understand sleep apnea? Do you know the risks it carries if the individual does nothing about it? It could cause relational strain, lower their performance at work, and even increase their risk of health problems.

Additionally, how well do you understand the solutions and the real-world benefits it will bring? Did you know that treatment for sleep apnea can add up to seven years to a person’s life? Make sure you understand all these things and practice explaining them.

Your dental practice should become an educational authority in the area of sleep dentistry. To this end, you should develop and release educational content in the form of blog posts, emails, videos, and/or social media posts. This is of course, on top of your education that occurs with your team in the office, and in individual consultations. Remember, it often takes someone hearing the same information multiple times before it “clicks,” and potential airway patients are no different. So, the better you get at efficiently educating them, the better off you’ll be… especially in light of the competing solutions on the market.

At Driven Dental, we specialize in marketing for dentists who offer high-value procedures. We operate on a simple premise: We deliver patients, not just leads. If you want to speed up the profitability of your airway practice, reach out today for a FREE strategy call. Even if we don’t end up partnering together, we want to teach you how to have the most effective airway consultations.


Stop chasing unqualified leads and wasting your valuable chairtime. Learn how to fill your operatories with patients who are pre-qualified and serious about moving forward with your high-value treatment.


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Stop chasing unqualified leads and wasting your valuable chairtime. Learn how to fill your operatories with patients who are pre-qualified and serious about moving forward with your high-value treatment.