Sleep Disorders | Sleep Review
Kenneth A. Mogell, DMD, DABDSM, helps many Medicare patients manage their sleep apnea with oral aids.
Posted by Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN | Photography by Briggitte Pascual
People who are normally afraid to go to the dentist can step into a place with Florida Dental Sleep Disorders without their usual apprehensions being raised. The practice’s four locations – in Boca Raton, Vero Beach, Jupiter and Melbourne – deliberately show an environment that is more similar to that of a doctor’s practice than a traditional dental practice. At the Melbourne and Vero locations, there are even no ceiling and chair tooth lights, and there are clearly no drills. After their first visit, patients can also confirm that they did not receive a free toothbrush or floss on the way to the door.
Florida Dental Sleep Disorders does not require general dental equipment as it is a fully dental sleep practice – and a busy one at that. Its founder, Kenneth A. Mogell, DMD, DABDSM, sees easily more than 100 patients per week, around 80% of whom are covered by Medicare. “We’re really changing people’s lives by not just filling a cavity,” says Mogell. “We’re changing people’s lives and this is really a powerful thing for a dentist.”
Change lives while change careers
Mogell didn’t begin his healthcare career with the goal of becoming a dental sleep doctor or even a dentist. He began interacting with patients in a different way – as a nurse.
After graduating from nursing school in the late 1970s, Mogell endeavored to find his place in a role that at the time was occupied by few men. After three years as a nurse and with the encouragement of friends, he applied to the dental school. Fortunately, he found the transition to a different type of patient care seamless. “As a nurse, I’d been in every opening, so that was helpful,” he jokes.
There would be another transition later, albeit a much more gradual one, as Mogell found his niche exclusively devoted to dental sleep medicine. He became interested in dental sleep after seeing significant numbers of patients with temporomandibular joint problems in his dental office. While discussing his observation with other dentists, they mentioned dental sleep medicine. At the time, Mogell “had absolutely no idea what they were talking about,” he says today, but his interest had been piqued.
Mogell was motivated by a desire to deliberately create a niche practice. He got into dental cosmetics early on and had successfully created a niche in this area. Dental sleep medicine felt like a “natural extension” of his practice.
After Mogell attended a training course with his then dental hygienist, who is now Marketing Director Katherine Danias, he slowly began to incorporate dental sleep medicine into his practice by offering only one afternoon a week. He says: “We saw the potential on site to not only expand our practice, but also to look after patients on a different level.” With Danias’ help, he later expanded the dental sleep service to a full day per week. Two years ago, Mogell was able to work full-time with his dental sleep services (and no longer offers any other types of dentistry).
David Schwartz, DDS, DABDSM, President of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM) credits Mogell’s success with his willingness to learn and build relationships with people who could help him.
“Dr. Mogell improved his dental sleep skills, met the right people, and done the hard work to learn and make a difference in sleep medicine,” says Schwartz. “Then he learned dental sleep medicine from those who had already made the effort to be successful in dental sleep medicine.”
Our biggest challenge is that people don’t know we exist. Patients will say, “Why didn’t anyone tell me that this was a viable option to treat my apnea?”
Kenneth A. Mogell, DMD, DABDSM
Mogell cultivated the habit of building relationships as the foundation for his growing dental sleep practice. That means building trusting relationships with patients and communicative and collaborative relationships with doctors.
He began to sensitize doctors and patients alike to dental sleep medicine. “Our biggest challenge is that people don’t know we exist,” he says. “Patients will say, ‘Why didn’t anyone tell me this was a viable option to treat my apnea?'”
As a dentist, Mogell can treat his patients for sleep apnea, but he cannot diagnose the sleep disorder. So he relies on the two-way relationship between his practice and the doctor’s offices. “I’m a lieutenant of the ship and the doctor is the captain,” he laughs.
The need for communication and collaboration means that Mogell’s work is a constant lesson in developing a trusting relationship. After all, patients often return to his office when their oral appliances are being designed and adjusted, returning for fine rotation and assessment every three months, and then seeing him annually.
“We develop the relationship and trust with the doctors so that they know that we can continuously manage their oral apparatus successfully,” he says. And while this is one aspect of his practice that presents the most challenging, it is also one of the most rewarding. “I find the work medically satisfactory and I enjoy building relationships with both patients and doctors,” he says.
Since most of his patients are 65 years of age or older and Mogell is a medical professional (obstructive sleep apnea therapies are medically and not medically insured), most of Mogell’s procedures are handled through Medicare.
“Joining Medicare early, because of the combination of the number of patients in that area on Medicare, opened many doors because no one did what I did,” says Mogell. “It has given me a lot of experience and has been of paramount importance to my practice of involving new people.”
He encourages anyone new to the field to sign up for Medicare immediately as it creates a natural entry point for new patients. Unlike some private insurers, Medicare does not require pre-authorization for oral devices used to treat sleep apnea. The only challenge he’s faced with Medicare is making sure that oral devices are classified as long-life medical devices and that the potential downside of the payout varies by geographic location. However, in his view, commercial insurance can be much more complicated and restrictive.
Kenneth A. Mogell, DMD, DABDSM, is the founder of Florida Dental Sleep Disorders. The practice with four locations focuses exclusively on oral device therapy for sleep-disturbed breathing.
Share his expertise
Mogell is dedicated to training other dentists and promoting awareness in the field of dental sleep medicine. He often speaks about practice management and business growth. His advice to dentists interested in dental sleep is to contact professional associations such as the AADSM and the American Sleep and Breathing Academy (ASBA) and look for local courses.
ASBA President Kent Smith, DDS, DABDSM, Founders of Sleep Dallas and 21st Century Sleep Seminars, says, “We’re all on the same page when it comes to saving lives, healing relationships, and extending careers. Working together through integrated meetings, whether face-to-face or virtual, can go a long way in showing that we are much more similar than different. If we keep the patient first, everyone wins if there have to be winners in this area. ”
Smith adds that Mogell’s commitment to advancing the field of dental sleep medicine and building relationships between doctors and dentists is clear. “He has consistently sought to improve the field of sleep medicine,” says Smith. “His passion for uncovering the undiagnosed and treating the disenfranchised is evident in every conversation we have had over the past decade.”
Schwartz from AADSM says, “Dr. Mogell was a fantastic colleague who not only is not afraid to share his experiences, but is also willing to share the new things he has learned from others along the way. He was a supporter of the academy as well as a tremendous friend of mine and the academy where he volunteers, lectures, and acts as a mentor. “
Both dentists speak of Mogell’s willingness to volunteer, supervise and help, whether it be discussing innovations in the field or as co-chair of the “New Concepts” course offered on December 4th and 5th, 2021 becomes AADSM.
At the end of the day, Mogell sees himself simply as a man lucky enough to do a job he loves and continue to build relationships with his patients and others around him.
“I work hard, but I really like what I do,” says Mogell. “I have no problem getting up and coming to work and I am so blessed with what I have and I am so grateful for the people around me, from my co-workers to my co-workers. I have some great role models and I wouldn’t be where I am without them. “
Chaunie Brusie, RN, BSN, is a content creator who specializes in health, medicine, parenting, finance, and travel. This is her first article for Sleep Review.