A New Way
Meet Stan Jones, a 25 year veteran of dental sleep medicine and inventor of Optimal Air, a patent-pending system for bite registration developed specifically for dental sleep medicine from Nexus Dental Systems.
Stan got his start as a dental assistant back in the 90s just as dental sleep medicine was just starting to gain wider acceptance. “I went to a day seminar on the topic with [his dentist], and that was the first time that I heard the words ‘dental sleep medicine’ used together,” Stan recalls. The following week Stan got a sleep test and was diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea. His physician offered a CPAP but after attending the seminar he decided to try oral appliance therapy first.
At the time, only a few appliances were available. Stan studied the different types carefully and being a lab technician, took his own impressions and fabricated his first device out of wire and acrylic. Within 3 months, his blood pressure was down, he had lost weight and his AHI went from 28 to 7. This began a decades-long journey into the world of dental sleep medicine. Over the years since, Stan has worked with dentists of all experience levels to integrate Sleep Medicine into their practices as a coach. He has developed and refined protocols for each stage of sleep medicine in the dental practice, laser focused on making the process seamless for the team and reducing opportunities for errors.
“For many years I used horizontal bite systems to set the bite for oral sleep appliances, but after studying the upper and lower airway and TMJ, I began to consider the possibility that horizontal and vertical offset might be the secret to optimal jaw position.” At the time there were several systems on the market that incorporated horizontal and vertical advancement, and Stan tried them all. He received positive feedback from patients and dentists were getting good therapeutic results, but he felt the available systems were complicated and difficult to use compared to a horizontal-only method like a George GaugeTM.
Over the years, Stan had used all of the various techniques to set a bite, searching for each patient’s optimal starting position. No method was exact and devices always had to be titrated for optimal performance. Some patients quit therapy because they felt oral appliance therapy was not comfortable due to the starting position of the device. Each method of measurement came with its own learning curve. There could be significant differences in measurements based on how the device was held and read. Some systems involved flipping measurement blocks and doing calculations to determine jaw position. It was easy to write down the wrong number. That just didn’t fit with Stan’s philosophy of keeping things seamless, simple and reducing the opportunity for error.
Stan knew there could be a better way. It needed to measure vertical and horizontal displacement. It needed to get the measurement right, before the appliance was made. It needed to be simple enough that the results would be the same no matter who took the measurements. After years of development and field testing, he partnered with Nexus Dental Systems to bring Optimal Air to practices across the country in 2023.