Have you got sleep apnea or snoring? Looking for an alternative treatment? Think about oral appliance therapy.

For many people, treatment for snoring or obstructive sleep apnea using a device such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) is not very appealing. But there are other treatment options available. There is good research behind the use of oral appliances, such as mandibular advancement splints, like the devices produced by SomnoMed. In this video, recorded at Sleep Down Under 2015, Dr David Cunnington, sleep physician, and Peter Field, national sales manager, from SomnoMed discuss use of the SomnoMed oral appliances to treat snoring and sleep apnea. They also discuss use of the DentiTrac device to monitor usage.

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David Cunnington: So I’m with Peter Field from SomnoMed and we’re going to talk to Peter about mandibular advancement splints, which are used a lot in the treatment of snoring and sleep apnea.

So Peter, I really like these devices and particularly the SomnoMed device. I think it’s a really useful device. Can you tell us a bit about the SomnoMed appliances?

Peter Field: Sure. So SomnoMed has been around now David for about 10 years in Australia. The original SomnoMed was developed by a Sydney dentist and we now have a worldwide coverage. We’ve just made out 250,000th device, so we’ve gone international.

It’s a very simple design. It’s what we call a “wing coupling system”. So basically we have an orthodontic screw on the upper and a little wing on the lower and the idea is that the device simply brings the jaw forward, the theory being that by bringing the jaw forward, you will improve the patency of the airway and that reduces the number of apneas, hypopneas during the night.

So if a patient – ideal for patients who can’t tolerate CPAP or often we’re now selling them for patients who wish to travel and it’s the convenience of travelling with something small that you – small and discreet if you like.

David Cunnington: I will use them for snoring. I agree with you. It’s often – I will have people who got their CPAP machine at home, but a mandibular advancement splint that they use for travel.

One of the other problems I have clinically is transport drivers or commercial workers and it has been tough to measure compliance with our oral appliances. So how do you go about that?

Peter Field: I’m glad you asked the question David. So SomnoMed has just introduced a little product called DentiTrac. It comes out of Canada by a company called Braebon. The DentiTrac picks up on body temperature. So basically it will start recording when the patient puts it in their mouth at night and when they take it out in the morning.

So that way, you get a nice, little report that says patient is wearing their device every night, wearing it for eight hours a night. Australian research has been done in an initial study of 69 of these patients showing average night-time usage is 7.5 hours. Average overall compliance is 85 percent, which is what the data tells us but we now have a way to measure that. Patient self-recording was saying that most people put it in when they go to bed and take it out when they get up in the morning. Now we’ve got a way of measuring that.

David Cunnington: One of the other problems or things I try to do when I’m using oral appliances is make sure people are working with dentists who are familiar with the appliances. So if physicians or patients are interested in this type of device, how do they go about finding someone who’s experienced and can use your products?

Peter Field: Absolutely. Thanks David. We have a number of representatives in each state and our job is basically to get in front of the sleep physicians and let them know about our product and some of the 17 clinical trials that we have behind our product.

But it’s also to link them to our SomnoMed network and we’ve now got over 900 active SomnoMed partners. So they’ve been through a SomnoMed course, so they were approved by us to be able to fit the devices and we can give it to sleep physicians, a list of those approved dentists.

David Cunnington: Great. Thanks for your help Peter.

Peter Field: David, it has been a pleasure.


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