Dentistry and Cancer: The Link And The Solution

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]2018 was a rough year for me and my family, but one that confirmed that I am on the right professional path. With October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I am moved to share this story as it is very close to my heart and my work. It brought great inspiration and reflection to what I do daily in the dental industry.

Early in the year my father, at the age of 68, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A stage four diagnosis, unfortunately, because it was in his spine and already metastasized to the bone. He had surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation over the course of 10 months. About halfway through his treatment, my mom, age 66, went in for a routine mammogram. After some abnormal findings and a few more tests, it was confirmed that she had unilateral breast cancer.  Fortunately, it was caught very early and did not require radiation or chemotherapy. She had a mastectomy in October without complication.

I’m happy to report that 2019 has resulted in both of my parents being considered in remission! As their only daughter and their health care advocate, having both of my parents diagnosed and treated for cancer in the same year was very challenging. It really makes you think about health and life, which reaffirmed my passion for my work. I am thrilled to help dentists and their team members implement processes that can both straighten their practices and change patients’ lives.

Why dentistry?

In dentistry, there are many ways to affect and change lives. Whether it be through prevention and establishing early hygiene habits, cavity detection and treatment, helping a patient out of pain, treating periodontal disease, replacing missing teeth to restore function, or even through helping a patient love their smile… All of these things change lives. Most dentists would agree that this is what motivated them to study dentistry in the first place. They wanted to help patients.

Over the last decade, the ability to help patients has grown as dentistry has really evolved into health care. The idea that the oral cavity is not tied to the rest of the body is a stigma that is slowly but surely being corrected. No one can deny the evidence that what happens in the mouth, and the treatment that dentists provide, affects the overall body.

Dentistry and Cancer

Nothing has aided this evolution more than sleep medicine. As one of the first procedures that is exclusively billed to medical insurance and can only be provided by a dentist, it is the great stepping stone that ties dentistry and medicine. If you research sleep medicine at all, you know that poor sleep and, specifically, sleep-related breathing disorders like obstructive sleep apnea are linked to countless health conditions. Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, heart disease, hypertension, acid reflux, snoring, weight gain, diabetes, and depression, just to name a few.

Numerous studies have shown that there is also a link between obstructive sleep apnea and cancer. Not only an increased risk of developing cancer, but also an increased rate of mortality due to cancer.

One study involving thousands of patients in Spain found that those with the most severe forms of sleep apnea had a 65% greater risk of developing cancer. Another study of about 1500 government workers in Wisconsin showed that those suffering from breathing abnormalities at night had five times the rate of dying from cancer compared to people without the sleep disorder.

What Can Dentists Do About It?

As I see it, the dentists’ role in health, specifically in screening and treatment for sleep disorders, has as much impact on overall health as any other division of medicine. What a fantastic opportunity for a dentist to expand their practice and reinforce their position as a healthcare provider.

To come full circle, I will mention that both of my parents have severe obstructive sleep apnea.  Both have been seeing medical providers routinely for the last few decades, and there was no mention of their sleep health or getting them tested.

The first healthcare provider to bring up sleep apnea to them?

Their dentist.

The only reason they were tested and subsequently treated for sleep apnea?

Their dentist.

Hindsight is 20/20, but I often wonder, “If their sleep apnea was diagnosed 20 years ago, would their health outcome be different?” According to the above-referenced study, having untreated sleep apnea increased their risk of developing cancer by 65%. With this evidence, I truly believe that dentists have an opportunity to change healthcare. If you could screen, test, and treat a patient in their 30s–who would otherwise go undiagnosed for decades–think of the one life you changed. Your diagnosis and treatment could prevent them from suffering from any one of the conditions linked to sleep health above. If you implement a “Screen Every Patient” protocol, think of the thousands of lives you could change and possibly save.

[/vc_column_text][vc_text_separator title=”Author” title_align=”separator_align_left” css=”.vc_custom_1571242952479{padding-top: 20px !important;}”][vc_employee employee_style=”horizontal” emp_design=”business” image=”323″ img_style=”round” name=”Crystal May” position=”COO at Devdent”]Crystal is dedicated to helping dental practices be successful in dental sleep medicine and medical billing. With over 17 years of medical billing experience, 10 with an emphasis on dentistry, she is a leading educator on these topics. Having owned and managed multiple dental practices, she mastered the process of efficient implementation. She enjoys sharing her passion and knowledge with dental practices throughout the country.[/vc_employee][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Imagn Medical Billing Service

Due to the complex nature of medical insurance billing, most dental offices are not equipped with the knowledge to properly credential national payers, submit successful claims, or handle aging and appeals. Imagn Medical Billing Service performs the proper credentialing and billing for you, which results in fewer denials and time well saved as you rely on expert help.

One-Time Credential Fee

$795/per dentist

The key to more successful payments

Our experts complete the process so you can start billing medical insurance. Each dentist billing medical insurance needs to be credentialed.

Pay Per Case

Verification of Benefit

$35 per vob

We get your patient’s insurance information so you can set proper expectations with the patient regarding the specific coverage available and any out of pocket fees. This is the most critical step in all of medical billing.

Per Authorization

$40 per auth

All procedures require pre-authorization in order for your practice to get paid. Gaining appropriate authorization can be challenging, let our experts get the job done for you.

Claim Submission

8% of successful claim

You don’t have time to sit on hold. Let us sit on hold and handle the claim submission work for you  We also handle the aging and appeals so you can focus on your practice.

Choose Your Software

Imagn Software is your one stop solution with both medical billing and dental sleep medicine capabilities with world-class support

What most dentist don’t know is that medical billing can increase your case acceptance rate and ensure your patients get the care they need.

Imagn Software

$195 /month

No contract and your satisfaction guaranteed.

Our goal is to give you the best experience. But if you are not satisfied then we will give you a full refund for your software access fee within 30 days of purchase.

Add Imagn Sleep Software

$100 /month

Our software provides everything you need

to give your patient’s the sleep care they deserve.

Patients can no longer afford to have dentists ignore the responsibility of providing care for sleep disorders. Two out of every three Americans report poor sleep; the ability to breathe well is the most important factor in determining a person’s sleep quality. 

Imagn Software Set-up Fee

$399 one-time fee

No contract and your satisfaction guaranteed.

Our goal is to give you the best experience. But if you are not satisfied then we will give you a full refund for your software access fee within 30 days of purchase.

Choose Your Monthly Devdent Support Program

In order for you to succeed, we offer a unique range of customer support solutions including coaching, online resources, implementation programming, and so much more. We keep an eye on the ever changing industry trends so you can focus on your practice

Medical Billing Support

$200 /month

The program to get and keep your staff trained.

Dental Sleep Medicine Support

$200 /month

The program to implement Dental Sleep Medicine into your practice.


$345 /month

Get both of the Medical Billing and Dental Sleep Medicine Support programs at a discount.

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