David Gergen executive director of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy has worked very hard to position mild to moderate sleep apnea as a predominantly dental condition. Often patients with sleep apnea at these levels are treated with CPAP without the option of an oral appliance. Often because the sleep physician is unaware or untrained in the use of these appliances or because there are no suitably trained dentists in the local area.
It was for this reason that David Gergen founded the dental wing of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy. The ASBA as it is known in dental circles has established itself in just 4 years as the premier training program for dentists who treat sleep apnea clinically. Just this past weekend 20 dentists from all over the country came to Scottsdale AZ for an advanced course to prepare them for diplomacy in this prestigious organization. The next diplomacy review course is on March 12 2016 click here for information
The ASBA has an annual conference in Scottsdale AZ, This year it will be April 15 and 16 2016 click here for information. This conference is widely recognized as the most accessible sleep apnea dentistry program available.
David Gergen has worked tirelessly to advance the cause of Sleep Apnea Dentistry for the last 10 years. but it was not always so…
David Gergen rolled out of bed on December 4, 1982, and had his career “aha” moment. Gergen knew he was going to be an orthodontic technician, and he knew he was going to help people all over the country. Since then, he has built one of America’s most successful dental labs in Phoenix, Arizona, revolutionized the sleep industry through oral appliances and special programs, and was once voted top dental laboratory technician in the country.
For more than 20 years in Phoenix, Gergen spent the fall coaching POP Warner football and/or high school football. Most of the important lessons of his life were learned either watching football legends, creating challenges for himself on the field, or teaching children the values of courage and teamwork on the field.
It comes as no surprise that Gergen, father of nine children, would focus a good deal of his professional life to helping children achieve their goals. Gergen is a certified dental technician, and some would say a master technician that children and adults have relied on for excellent results.
In his professional life, Gergen worked to straighten teeth for cosmetic reasons, and to help create functional oral structures for patients with severe trauma or developmental issues. Recently, attention has turned to the effects of poor jaw position on children. “A small airway often forces children to breathe through their mouth and posture their head forward resulting in rounded shoulders and back problems,” explains Gergen. “Continuing this position over many years will create permanent changes in posture. Poor breathing habits can result in heart and lung problems in later life.”
After 30 years of establishing better jaw and tooth function through orthodontics, Gergen decided that he was going to focus on the airway. His pediatric sleep appliance is a direct result of all of this experience and experimentation. Despite the growing evidence, Gergen laments that, “Some clinicians still believe that oral appliances are ineffective. As a dental sleep industry, I don’t think we’ve done a good enough job educating the public and physicians.”
Gergen’s pediatric sleep appliance is worn on the child’s upper and lower teeth, and gives dentists an opportunity to guide the growth of patients’ teeth— more importantly, the jaw and the airway. Expansion of the upper jaw will create more room for the tongue to posture forward and open the airway.
“The simple shape and construction of the lower appliance will help stage the growth of the child’s teeth allowing the dentist to control the growth rates of the teeth for maximum cosmetic and palliative effect,” enthuses Gergen. “One of the best parts of the treatment is that all the time this growth is being controlled, the jaw is held slightly forward creating an open airway leading to better and deeper sleep patterns.”
Gergen has been working with Hall of Fame NFL great Mike Haynes, whose son is Pop Warner age and grinds his teeth in his sleep. This is what drove Gergen to come up with the first pediatric sleep appliance.
Mike Haynes is no stranger to health issues from his experience with prostate cancer and concussions. Both Gergen and Haynes know the value of an oral appliance worn during the day, or while playing a sport. Proper jaw position has been shown to improve agility, performance, and strength.
David Gergen was the personal lab technician of Dr Ricketts widely recognized as an icon and innovative thinker in the field of orthodontics. Dr Ricketts developed and taught a phonetic bite registration technique that was all taught by Dr Ed Spiegel who is recognized as if not the father of sleep apnea dentistry certainly as a very well regarded uncle. David Gergen teaches the Ricketts phonetic bite at all ASBA meetings as the go to sleep apnea appliance bite registration. This is the same bite that is demonstrated at courses for $8 to $10K often renamed as some kind of vanity procedure. See below a demonstration of the phonetic bite registration as Dr Ricketts developed it.
In a 2012 dental conference in Las Vegas, Dr. Gelb paid Gergen a high compliment, saying, “David Gergen is the finest technician ever to live. He is heads and tails above the competition.” Gergen was honoring Dr. Gelb for his 65th year in dentistry at the presentation, and Dr. Gelb also mentioned, “There are two legends in this room.”
“To say that David Gergen is a leader in the field of sleep apnea is to describe the part that is most obvious to all,” adds Rudi M. Ferrate, MD, DABSM and Sleep medicine specialist. “The part most people miss at first is the strength of his character, his passion for excellence, and his humble desire to help as many people as possible. He could easily sit back and enjoy the fruits of his business, but instead he spends his time and resources promoting education and awareness about sleep disorders. He is single handedly the most important force bringing sleep physicians and sleep dentists together and now is using his skills and reputation to bring everyone else on board—from legislators to sports legends.”
When Gergen decided to change the world of sleep medicine, it seemed like something outside the realms of possibility. How could a certified dental lab tech from Arizona manifestly change the sleep industry? It began by assembling a winning team and deciding to help people treat their sleep disorders in partnership with their dentists.
In August 2011, Gergen’s first training program in sleep was presented to a group of 25 doctors in Sonoma, Calif. He continues to hold special seminars and educational meetings. In a market where there are companies running dental sleep medicine programs every week, each successive Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab program has gotten better in one really significant
way: the team.
Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab’s team is achieving a seasoned balance that makes these meetings better. Each educator has his specialty. Each topic is covered thoroughly without overreach that comes from trying to extrapolate data points to gloss over the unknown or unknowable. When Gergen was Arizona’s most successful POP Warner football coach, he learned that individual efforts often do not make the grade, and it is teams that win.
Gergen’s new meetings will be remembered as the first time that retired NFL players used their celebrity status to introduce the urgent need for sleep diagnosis and therapy to the general public.
He could easily sit back and enjoy the fruits of his business, but instead he spends his time and resources promoting education and awareness about sleep disorders.
“Pro Player Health Alliance was created to treat the sleep health needs of retired NFL players,” explains Gergen, “while at the same time raising awareness of sleep apnea as a silent killer.” Carl Eller, Larry Fitzgerald, Warren Moon, Roy Green, Dave Krieg, Isiah Robertson, Eric Dickerson, Mike Haynes, Tony Dorsett, Matt Blair, Chuck Foreman, and Derrek Kennard were all excellent football players, and some have been inducted into the Hall of Fame. They are all sleep apnea patients who are contributing to the field of sleep medicine and sharing their experiences with the general public.
With long-time friend, Dr. Elliott Alpher, Gergen met with the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, and his cabinet, on behalf of the Trucker’s Union, to begin using his oral appliance, made with a micro-recorder manufactured by Braebon. The micro-reader can monitor commercial
truck drivers’ compliance.
David Gergen At a Glance
• CDT and president of Pro Player Health Alliance and Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab;
• Honored as “The Finest Orthodontic Technician in the Country” by Columbus Dental in 1986.
• Executive Director the American Sleep and Breathing Academy, a national interdisciplinary academy dedicated to sleep training and education with over 60,000 members.
• Personal technician for Dr. Robert Ricketts, Dr. Ronald Roth, Dr. A. Paul Serrano, Dr. Clark Jones, Dr. Harold Gelb, Dr. Joseph R. Cohen, Dr. Rodney Willey, Dr. Allan Bernstein, and Dr. Thien Pham.
• Winner of the National Leadership award for Arizona Small Businessman of the Year in 2004.