The Harmony Story, by Dr. Amy Urban DMD

The Harmony Story, by Dr. Amy Urban DMD

I have alway slept well.  If someone had told me, 10 years ago, I had a sleep disorder, I would say, “no way!  I love to sleep.”    As it turned out, my quality of sleep was so poor, I was constantly sleepy.   My airway was collapsing when I relaxed and fell asleep.  I was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea three years ago.  I am 5”10 and 130 lbs.   While OSA was once thought to affect primarily overweight men, which it does, studies are showing that many more people are affected by obstructed sleep apnea than once thought.  The CDC has declared OSA a health epidemic.

 After my diagnosis of mild to moderate OSA, I  had an oral appliance made.   They can cost between $3000-$7000.  It kept my airway open, however it put a great deal of pressure and torque on my teeth and they started to shift.  I was also clenching, which was a sign that I was still having apnea episodes.  I started using an APAP machine (auto adjusting PAP versus continuous PAP).  After using the nasal pillows, I found my mouth blew open and the APAP was not effective.  I tried a full face mask and my jaw moved around so much that the air was blowing by my nose and my chin.   Refusing to wear a chin strap, I decided to wear my oral appliance, as way to stabilize my jaw, which provided the primary support and foundation for the mask.  The full face mask worked beautifully with the oral appliance in place.  I also had the added benefit of keeping my jaw stabilized so it wouldn’t fall back and collapse.  This made my PAP more efficient and effective.  I dialed back my adjustments on my oral appliance so my jaw was not moved forward; I had it in a neutral, comfortable position, since I had a PAP machine.  My goal with the oral appliance was to prevent my jaw from falling back and keeping a stable interface for the mask.   Studies have shown that oral appliance therapy and PAP machines, when used together, can work better than either alone.

 My goal with the Harmony appliance is to make a low cost appliance that would keep the teeth together while also allowing for a lip seal to prevent dry mouth.   The Harmony will also be tested for effectiveness on keeping the jaw, thus the tongue and airway, supported when sleeping.

The Harmony is not yet available to consumers as it is undergoing further regulatory testing.