Why do I specialize in sleep disorders?

Friday, August 4th 2017

Over the years, I have treated many patients and helped with the great many challenges people face. One issue I constantly confront in patients is sleep disorders. It has become a major focus of my practice.

So many people I helped didn’t know why they were feeling so poorly. Sometimes they knew they weren’t sleeping well, but they didn’t know why; others couldn’t figure out what their problem was at all. I began to look into it, and because I was in a teaching institution at the time, I was around a lot of pioneers in the field, people who made big differences in people’s lives in the areas of facial pain and dysfunction. And two things became very clear: Sleep disorders in general, and sleep apnea in particular, was a major problem for many of my patients. And even more important, I came to realize, oral appliances are very effective in treating sleep apnea.

This was an important discovery on my part. It was important because at the time – and for many, even now – the most common, most conservative therapy for sleep apnea is not an appliance, but a face mask tethered to a breathing machine, and it was very clear that most people didn’t tolerate it very well. In fact, long-term studies showed that only about a quarter of the people who were prescribed these breathing machines, regardless of their design, used them for a long period of time. Often it was as little as a day, a week or two, or a month. Some even persisted for a year, but truthfully, very few patients, regardless of the severity of their apnea, kept using the devices at all, and oftentimes those who did persist in trying CPAP would remove the machine during sleep, or pull off the nose piece or the full face mask, reducing or eliminating the therapeutic value of the process. So their problems remained untreated.

I decided years ago that oral appliances were another approach to the treatment of sleep apnea that had great potential, and since then I’ve dedicated my time and my practice to providing that alternative, as well as conducting research and teaching others about this approach. Over the years, I’m proud to say I’ve helped thousands of men and women deal with their sleep disorders and live healthier, happier lives. Choosing this specialty was one of the best decisions I ever made.