Avi Weisfogel began his own dental practice, Old Bridge Dental Care, in 1999. Over the next 15 years he successfully grew his practice, turning it into one of the premier dental offices in the area. Slowly, he came to the insight that dentists were in a unique position to diagnose many diseases with etiologies in the head and neck area that otherwise may go untreated. He began to look further into this idea and eventually trained his attention of the vast but underappreciated problem of sleep apnea.
A silent killer leaves oral clues
Avi Weisfogel had his entrepreneurial eureka moment. If potentially deadly sleep apnea was going undiagnosed in almost 90% of cases and many of its overt signs, symptoms and risk factors are immediately apparent on examination of the mouth and head and neck area, then dentists are ideally positioned to spot this killer before it’s given free rein to run its fatal course. Dr. Weisfogel quickly began doing as much research as he could.
He found that there were multiple treatment modalities, some of which had proven extremely effective, but that few patients were aware of their condition and even fewer were compliant with treatment once initiated. He formed a company, Dental Sleep Masters that would train dentists nationwide to be able to recognize the subtle early warning signs of sleep apnea. Once patients were identified, dentists could then direct them to a certified sleep specialist, or in some cases, could recommend treatment options directly.
Over time, it became apparent that the concept of dentists treating sleep apnea patients was quickly proving its merit. Dentists across the country began offering treatment to patients they identified as having strong risk factors for developing sleep apnea or those who already were symptomatic. Dentists who were not yet certified by the American Board of Sleep Medicine were still able to recommend over-the-counter remedies for sleep apnea. Chief among them are the line of FDA-approved devices known as Sleep Apnea Treatment Mouthguards. These change the geometry of mouth structures, enabling unobstructed airflow.Avi Weisfogel can be credited as the father of sleep dentistry and, as such, has been responsible for saving countless lives.