An interesting and conducive way to raise awareness of the deadly disorder, sleep apnea.
It’s been 30 years in the making. David Gergen, an expert in oral appliance therapy, and owner ofGergen’s Orthodontic Lab has found an interesting and conducive way to raise awareness of the deadly disorder, sleep apnea. Teaming up with NFL greats such as Tony Dorsett, Derek Kennard, Dave Krieg, Warren Moon, Roy Green, Lincoln Kennedy, Mike Haynes and Carl Eller to speak with fans who suffer with snoring and sleep apnea has quickly become an event worth talking about. Creating the Pro Player Health Alliance has brought a new wave of awareness to the public by NFL greats sharing personal struggles, experiences, and losses withsleep apnea.
“The Pro Player Health Alliance is an incredible organization out to help those who suffer from sleep apnea. Working with sleep apnea patients, I know how easy it can be to treat this disorder and our organization has already had a huge positive impact on many,” mentions David Gergen, founder of Pro Player Health Alliance and Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab.
The organization has held several free events around the country to teach the public about the dangers of snoring and sleep apnea, as well as treatment options available. David Gergen has been a driving force in our momentum as his company fabricates the appliances for the NFL players that are diagnosed as well as the patients who are diagnosed through attending these events.
“Together with the former NFL players, we are able to draw a captive audience and offer free home sleep testing to all attendees, to ensure everyone will get tested and seek treatment!” says Gergen.
A majority of attendees report snoring, morning headaches, daytime fatigue, irritability, high blood pressure, hypertension and diabetes, these are all serious health issues that are linked to sleep apnea. Derek Kennard, former NFL Lineman can relate to many members in the audience.
“I would wake up tired, blood shot eyes, irritable and I found it very hard to focus during practice. All I could think about was sleeping, I knew I had a serious problem,” reports Derek Kennard. Kennard lost his brother Donald Kennard in 2009 when he passed at the age of 46 from a heart attack in his sleep due to sleep apnea.
“I wish I met David Gergen sooner, I feel he could have saved my brother’s life by making him an oral appliance for his sleep apnea,” stated Kennard.
Gergen is a certified dental technician. Some would say a master technician, once voted the most skilled dental technician in the country. In his professional life Gergen has worked with some of the finest orthodontists in the country to straighten teeth for cosmetic reasons and to help create functional oral structures for patients in case of severe trauma or with developmental issues.
Recently his attention has turned to the effects on children that poor jaw position can have. It has been widely reported in medical literature that a small or retruded lower jaw can create a small airway for a child. A small airway can cause poor breathing habits can result in sleep apnea as well heart and lung problems in later life.
The pursuit of the perfect airway device led Gergen to discover that 65% of retired NFL linemen have a reduced airway size that responds to the same therapy as the compromised child’s airway. In fact, the narrow airway syndrome has a very simple predictor. If a man has a shirt size over 16.5 inches or 15.5 in a woman they are very likely to have this condition. In adults, narrow airways often shows itself as snoring or choking and gagging while asleep. This results in a set of heart and stroke symptoms that can be life threatening. Imagine a child going untreated and going through his life with this condition then becoming a football player.
This is not as uncommon as you would think. Kennard, All Pro NFL Lineman, met Gergen at a POP Warner and high school football coach’s camp some years ago. They developed a close friendship based on a shared love of football. As Gergen developed his airway management devices he educated himself on the symptoms and the condition. Kennard volunteered to try one of the appliances. On the first night, he slept through the night for the first time in his adult life. He now relates the story that he cannot remember ever sleeping for more than 2 hours at a stretch. Imagine the fatigue that he felt as he went through his college football years and then 11 years as an NFL lineman. He recounts fighting to remember plays, struggling to stay awake on the bench and napping during breaks in the day. Then as a retired player he found himself in business meetings asking for clarification of points that were missed due in large part to his untreated sleep apnea.
The PPHA was born out of all of these seemingly disassociated events and relationships. Professional football players are now speaking at public events to point out the health risks associated with narrow airways and sleep apnea. Gergen is using his relationships with 15,000 of America’s top dentists to make sure that the retired NFL players are evaluated and if necessary treated for this life threatening condition. The retired NFL players are aware that like Gergen there are children in front of the TV watching every play dreaming to be just like them. They only hope that they all have the opportunity of an open airway and the chance of a much brighter academic and athletic future.
About Pro Player Health Alliance
The Pro Players Health Alliance (PPHA) is an organization dedicated to helping former NFL players, through providing testing and treatment options for those who suffer from sleep apnea. In addition, the PPHA is dedicated to integrating education and raising sleep apnea awareness, in a fun and memorable way. In addition to the campaign, the PPHA is dedicated to testing and getting people treated who suffer from sleep apnea. The PPHA was created by David Gergen, President of Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab, Rani Ben-David, President of Sleep Group Solutions, and Former NFL legends.
About David Gergen
David Gergen, CDT and President of Pro Player Health Alliance and Gergen’s Orthodontic Lab, has been a nationally respected dental lab technician for over 25 years. He received the award for “The Finest Orthodontic Technician in the Country” given by Columbus Dental in 1986. He also has been appointed chair of the dental wing of the Sleep and Breathing Academy a national interdisciplinary academy dedicated to sleep training and education with over 60,000 members. David rolled out of bed on September 12, 1981 and had his career “ah ha” moment. He knew he was going to be an orthodontic technician and he knew he was going to help people all over the country to help treat their sleep disorders in partnership with their dentists. He has worked for some of the pioneers in the orthodontic and sleep dentistry fields. He was the personal technician for the likes of 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. One of his proudest achievements is receiving The National Leadership award for Arizona Small Businessman of the Year in 2004.
About Dr. Allan Bernstein
Allan K. Bernstein, D.D.S., focuses his practice exclusively on orofacial pain disorders (TMD), and obstructive sleep apnea/snoring. He has been in practice in the Phoenix Valley since 1978. Dr. Bernstein received his dental training at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and completed his dental internship at Sinai Hospital in Baltimore, MD. He continues to enhance and refine his clinical expertise through ongoing training and professional involvement in TMD, as well as the treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea with the use of oral appliances, an area he expanded his practice to include since 1986. Dr. Bernstein is board certified by the American Board of Orofacial Pain, the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, and served as a member of the Academy’s Board of Directors.