Recap: The American Sleep and Breathing Academy’s annual meeting

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Recap: The American Sleep and Breathing Academy’s annual meeting

The American Sleep and Breathing Academy’s annual meeting in Scottsdale, which took place April 15th and 16th, is the only meeting for dental and medical professionals alike where NFL legends, congressmen and some of the most successful sleep experts in the country come to share their experiences and knowledge with members who attend. This unique combination offers an outlook on all aspects of sleep medicine from the patient’s point of view to working with local government to promote awareness and recognition of sleep disordered breathing in the local community.


Congressman Marty Russo

Congressman Marty Russo

The meeting started off with a returning key note speaker, former Congressman, Marty Russo. Using his background in his excellent lobbying expertise, Russo spelled out what dentists can do to be successful in influencing the outline of the proposed rulemaking and how oral appliance therapy can be used for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the Federal Railway Administration. By addressing the questions covering areas of most interest to federal policy makers that closely align with the doctor’s expertise, dentists can impact guidelines that will be used to regulate treatment protocols relating to individuals with OSA occupying safety sensitive positions in highway and rail transportation.

Dr. Rod Willey, the founder and CEO of the Koala Centers for Sleep Disorders, gave his most heartfelt speech to date. Willey is among the most productive sleep apnea dentists in America and it is clear that his driving force, behind all of this success, is helping to save as many people as possible. This was evident as his passion spewed into the audience, giving attendees tips for building a successful practice while also helping their community.

Dr. Jay Wright, orthodontist, had his public speaking debut at the ASBA annual conference. Dr. Wright had no idea but Dr. Paul Serrano, considered by many to be the finest orthodontist in the country, was in attendance. Dr. Serrano said that Dr. Wright was spot on with his lecture. He gave perhaps the finest pediatric sleep algorithm to date.

Dr. Kent Smith gave a great presentation on the three things he wishes he knew before treating sleep apnea. Following his lecture, he received a standing ovation and later in the evening, Dr. Smith was informed that he won the ASBA presidency for 2017-2018.

Harry Sugg and David Gergen Holding Hands

Hall of Fame Harry Sugg DDS with David Gergen

David Gergen and NFL greats presented Dr. Elliot Alpher and Dr. Harry Sugg with initiation into the American Sleep and Breathing Academy’s Hall of Fame for their vast achievements in dental sleep medicine. Dr. Sugg, not knowing the honor was coming, broke into tears as Eric Dickerson expressed his gratitude towards him.

Dr. Kevin Mueller did a masterful job presenting how to reconstruct a person’s occlusion using crowns, showing that, with proper restorative dentistry and a qualified lab, an oral appliance might not be necessary. Dr. Mueller uses Hershberger Dental Lab in Phoenix, Arizona exclusively.

Following Dr. Richard Bonato’s presentation there was a line of people eager to speak with him regarding the information in his speech. Dr. Bonato is heavily involved in the medical devices industry and gave an informative talk on micro recorders and how they can measure patient treatment compliance.

Mack Newton, inspirational speaker, several time Tae Kwan Do world champion, spoke about discipline, formulating a good strategy and plan and when to start. Newton said that the “when” is the most important part and now is as good a time as any. Newton also said that if something is possible then it is inevitable and that is how he has always lived his life. Following his presentation, Mack was greeted with a standing ovation.

Dr. Robert Iversen, is the program director of Arrowhead Health Centers which offers patients a unique and easy way at obtaining care. Arrowhead Health is a one stop shop for patients who can receive care from multiple specialists under one roof; a convenience not usually available to patients at a reasonable price. Dr. Iversen presented that the doctors in his facility are working with ASBA trained dentists across the community to get oral appliances prescribed to their patients. He also touched on the fact that, skilled dentists, working within the medical model, have a standardized fee but those dentists that do not work within the medical model have a significantly higher fee and have hurt the industry overall. For example, companies like Sleep Services and Mediscore are hurting the industry when they bill over $9000 for an oral appliance and $7000 for an AM Deprogrammer (splint). In addition, these dentists are not properly trained in dental sleep medicine and it is quite evident that patient outcome is not their primary concern.

For these reasons, and more, Dr. Iversen asserted that the ASBA is extremely important because it teaches dentists to work within the medical model and to steer clear of fraudulent business people.

Dr. Patricio Reyes, board certified and world renowned neurologist for the VA, asserted that the CPAP machine is widely over prescribed. Dr. Reyes touched on the treatment delays within the VA and how he hopes that oral appliance therapy will play a bigger role with the vets and enable care to be more quickly available.

Current ASBA President, Dr. Erin Elliott, gave the sleep medicine newbies an incredible introduction to sleep. Attendees were fortunate enough to get this insight from a skilled and professionally trained dental sleep specialist.

The second breakout session was presented by Angela Prayne from the Koala Center for Sleep Disorders. She gave insight on front and back office winning strategies for a successful sleep practice.

Dr. Gerry Weisfogel, who is the nation’s first cardiologist to be boarded and certified in sleep, talked about chronic care management and how to implement programs with networks of care providers. This breakout session was attended by many and Gerry gave the doctors tips for chronic care with Medicare patients in order to generate more oral appliances.