Interview with Teresa Power from SomnoMed
In this installment of our “S’News” blog, we’re delighted to share some dental sleep medicine industry insights from the one and only, Teresa Power. Teresa is the Northeast Regional Manager with SomnoMed, the largest manufacturer of oral appliances worldwide. Get ready for the low-down on SomnoMed’s latest and greatest device the AVANT. Catch up on industry news and learn more about Teresa and her incredible passion for the sleep industry.
Question #1: What brought you to the sleep industry? And what about the industry and/or SomnoMed made you want to stay?
- I spent the first few years of my career in orthopedic surgery and then moved onto selling dental implants. I was fortunate to have success, but it wasn’t interesting to me, and it probably wasn’t interesting to anyone else! Sleep, however,is the subject of internet memes, medical journals, TED talks and mommy blogs… everyone knows SOMEONE with a sleep disorder. I always wanted to make an income while making a difference. Helping clinicians help their patient sleep better truly does that. It’s great to work with my team at SomnoMed – I feel believe they care about each other, the customers, and the patients.
Question #2: What makes SomnoMed stand out from other Oral Appliance Therapy (O.A.T.) device manufacturers?
- SomnoMed truly has the best quality devices, with proven efficacy. We’re proud of the comfort and fit we provide, which we know directly relates to patient compliance. As the world leader in manufacturing of oral appliances, we’re able to participate in medical studies and surveys of patients, physicians and dentists. These studies, conducted all over the world, continue to improve our products and our processes.
Question #3: Which O.A.T. device is most popular and/or successful amongst patients?
- The Avant device, launched almost a year ago, has quickly become a favorite among patients and clinicians. It’s small and strong, with no metal parts. It’s super comfortable and easy to adjust- during the quarantine, many patients were trying their device for the first time and having follow up/adjustment appointments via telemedicine!
Question #4: Where do you see the sleep industry, more specifically SomnoMed heading in the near future (5-10 years)?
- SomnoMed manufactures oral devices for dentists, but we have associated our company with the “medical” side of sleep for years. There is a bigger push than ever to improve the awareness of OAT options and effectiveness among medical providers. All in the goal of appropriately treating patients. Increased networking and similar goals among many OAT manufacturers and sleep companies should really be helpful in moving this industry forward.
Question #5: Do you expect technological advances to help the success of diagnosing and treating those suffering from OSA?
- Absolutely! I’m learning more every day, but there are tons of new technologies out there. Some examples include multiple home testing options, improved telemedicine platforms, consumer products and home sleep tracking devices. There are several studies on pharmacological treatments that work in conjunction with OAT (or PAP therapy). As well as new developments in phenotyping patients to determine the best treatment for each patient. It’s estimated that over 20% of Americans have OSA, and over 80% are not diagnosed. Millions of patients will benefit the more awareness of sleep and its impact on overall health increases. Improvements in technology to make treatment more accessible and comfortable for patients will also be a major benefit!
Question #6: When partnering with sleep offices who originally only specialized in CPAP treatment for sleep apnea, and then later expanded their practice to treating sleep apnea through O.A.T., what is the most common reaction sleep physicians have regarding O.A.T. and its success in treating their patients?
- There are a handful of misconceptions I hear over and over again on the medical side of things. These misconception can be easily cleared up with connection to a qualified dental sleep team, like Ohio Sleep Treatment. They can also speak to a rep , and/or reference the many published medical studies. For example, the misconception that OAT is too expensive, or not covered by insurance– a local sleep dentist would be able to speak directly about the insurances they accept and the general fees and payment options. Some have heard that the devices are bulky and uncomfortable- lumping in over-the-counter products and devices from decades ago with the newest devices available. In my experience, some of the medical doctors who prescribe the most OAT have personally experienced its effectiveness… they might have a device themself, their bed partner, or a family member. They have seen, first-hand, the improved quality of life, and improvement in overall health.
Question #7: If you are able to share, what is a project that SomnoMed is currently working on that you are excited for?
- Soon, we are launching the “Herbst Advance Elite” device. It’s been PDAC approved (Medicare and some insurances require that), and we’re excited to offer another option for dentists and their patients. This device is made with the some of the same strong, high quality materials that helped make the Avant device so popular.
Question #8: If you could say one thing to those questioning treatment for their sleep apnea, what would you say and why?
- Explore all the options and understand there’s no one-size-fits-all treatment! Clinically, we tend to focus on the serious medical condition of OSA, although some patients believe its JUST snoring. Some physicians will offer PAP therapy as the only first line of therapy, but patient have more options and should be comfortable asking questions. Oral appliances can be a great way to treat this serious condition, without being an inconvenience to their bed partner or during travel. I would recommend they get consultations to learn about the therapy options. As well as meditation, breathing exercises, working on small habits that make up their sleep hygiene. Also consider chiropractic support and/or CBT-I with a licensed psychologist.
Question #9: How can MDs and Dentists work better together in an effort to treat diagnosed obstructive sleep apnea patients?
- I believe that efficient communication and continuous education is key to successful partnerships. Success is when more patients are receiving the appropriate treatment. Each clinician has their own preferences and specialties. Clinicians might not know the difference between a general dentist using a snore guard and a qualified sleep dentist using a custom oral appliance. They need to be on the same page about this and have open communication and a standard process for referrals. Having a representative from the dental and medical practice who can contact each other directly is important. Dental practices can also partner with SomnoMed, for example, to help increase general OAT awareness with local medical teams- including PAs & RNs, since they have frequent communication with patients.
Question #10: Lastly, how can Physicians and Sleep Doctors reading this article best reach out to you?
- I always tell clients to call, text or email me … but now it’s more like – call, text, email, FaceTime, GoToMeeting, LinkedIn, Facebook message me!
- I also work with an amazing team of account managers (and marketing, accounting, operations, lab techs, etc) available at our general phone line 888-447-6673.
Thank you Teresa for your insightful feedback on the current and future trends in the dental sleep medicine. The team at Ohio Sleep Treatment is thrilled to work with you and your company in the name of treating more patients comfortably and effectively. We are honored to be associated with a company like SomnoMed that shares the same passion for oral appliance therapy.