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01 Sep 2004 | Australasian Dental Practice

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SomnoMed legitimises sleep solutions for dentists

Sleep Dentistry Snoring and sleep apnoea

As more and more dentists discover the lead role they can play in a patient's overall systemic health, there is a growing need for turnkey solutions that package education for patient and clinician with the products and services required to effect treatment.


A key area where dentistry can have a positive effect on a patient's life is in the diagnosis and treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and snoring and on August 27, a new publicly listed company, SomnoMed Ltd, was floated on the Australian Stock Exchange to provide dentists and other healthcare professionals with a way of doing this.

"We have seen a very ad hoc approach to providing dentists with solutions for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring over the years," said SomnoMed CEO John Diddams. "What SomnoMed has done to date is to take a patented world-class Australian developed product that is proven to work and centralised controlled manufacturing of the device to ensure that quality and specifications are maintained. We are now embarking on a program of educating and accrediting dentists in when and how it should be used which in due course, will be followed by a public awareness campaign once the treatment infrastructure is in place."

For many years, there has been a range of devices available, typically designed, developed and modified by dental laboratories and marketed in a very low-key manner.

SomnoMed, in the long term, plans to bring the issues of obstructive sleep apnoea, which affects approximately 24% of men and 9% of women, and snoring (44% and 28% respectively) to the forefront, ensuring sufferers are aware that help is as close as their local dentist.

"Patients will be able to approach dentists directly for the device," Mr Diddams said, "or be referred to an accredited dentist by their GP, respiratory or sleep specialist. Conversely, where necessary, dentists will be able to refer severe OSA sufferers to an appropriate medical practitioner for further diagnosis and treatment. Our goal at SomnoMed is to ensure our accredited dentists have a comprehensive knowledge and toolset of how to deal with sleep related problems."

The first product from SomnoMed, a mandibular advancement splint known as the SomnoMed MAS™, was developed in Australia and has a number of unique and patented features. A key feature is that it allows unrestricted opening of the mouth, which provides superior patient comfort when compared to other MAS devices. Clinical trials conducted by the Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at St George Hospital Sydney have shown that the device was able to successfully treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea.

To date, the complex nasal CPAP system (marketed by ResMed) is the mainstay treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and notably, Professor Colin Sullivan, the inventor of this so far gold standard of treatment back in 1980, is part of the SomnoMed Medical Advisory Board. Professor Iven Klineberg, well known as the Dean of the Faculty of Dentistry, University of Sydney from 1991 to 1998 and now Professor of Prosthodontics and Head of the Jaw Function and Orofacial Pain Research Unit at the University, is also on the Board.

SomnoMed has similarly recruited key people with industry specific knowledge to ensure the manufacturing and marketing of the device is successful. Ms Ashley Anderson, the Chief Operations Officer was previously the laboratory manager at NAOL, a large orthodontic and appliance manufacturing facility and has a long history in the dental industry. Similarly, Chief Marketing Officer John Truitt, has many years experience in diverse roles within the dental industry including the development of continuing education programmes for dental professionals both locally and overseas.

"We have recruited key people from within the dental industry who are experienced at managing dental laboratories and communicating with the dental profession at all levels; we have people skilled at managing and administering publicly listed companies; and we have a knowledgeable Medical Advisory Board who can oversee the clinical and ongoing research aspects of the organization," Mr Diddams said.

Mr Diddams said that by adding dental sleep medicine to a practice's treatment options was not only of tremendous benefit to patients, but also a new profit centre.

"We expect practices will charge between $1200 and $1500 to fit the SomnoMed MAS which means it will be a very profitable treatment option. Having said that, effectively treating snoring and/or OSA is a life changing experience and well worth the cost. Sound, uninterrupted sleep has a profoundly rejuvenating effect on the body.

"The SomnoMed MAS will facilitate this in an appliance that maximises patient comfort, offers a stable occlusion, better function while fitted over other devices and has no affect on the TMJ."

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