The traditional model of dentistry finds the highly trained D.D.S. focusing solely on the treatment of dental and periodontal disease. But these dentists have precisely the same educational background as any physician, with only the course of advanced training differing. Another interesting fact is that many dentists are seen far more frequently by patients who cannot avoid the consequences of poor dental health. While routine checkups can be delayed indefinitely, it simply isn’t possible for most people to tolerate a missing or chipped tooth, especially if it affects their smile. And attempting to ignore cavities will only work for a short while, as the inevitable course is a progression to abscess and systemic infection.
These realities mean that many dentists may see a patient ten or more times in a decade, the same patient may not see his doctor a single time in that period. This amounts to dentists being in a potentially crucial position for the early diagnosis of diseases, especially those that involve the head, neck or mouth, which, it turns out, is a shockingly high percentage of all serious illness.
One New Jersey dentist, Avi Weisfogel, came to this realization perhaps before anyone else. If dentists are in a position to diagnose potentially fatal diseases, why not train dentists specifically in the recognition and treatment of these ailments, as physicians are trained in the general recognition of disease states? This led Dr. Weisfogel into a period of deep study and professional introspection. When he emerged, he had discovered, perhaps, the single most insidious illness that dentists could make the most devastating impact against, sleep apnea.
Armed with this hard-won knowledge, Dr. Weisfogel founded Dental Sleep Masters, a novel organization dedicated to the total eradication of one of the most epidemic, deadly diseases ravaging the United States. Under Dr. Weisfogel’s clear-sighted vision, it wouldn’t be physicians who would form the vanguard in this epic battle, but dentists. The concept was quickly validated, with many of DSM’s first students reporting having quit their traditional practices in favor of sleep dentistry. Through Dr. Weisfogel’s visionary contributions, the face of dentistry has been forever altered.