Dr. Avi Weisfogel, a New Jersey dentist who single-handedly founded the field of sleep dentistry, has recently run a successful charity drive to raise funds for Operation Smile. Operation Smile is an organization dedicated to the pro bono surgical repair of impoverished children suffering from cleft lip or cleft palate.
Founded in 1982, Operation Smile was the brainchild of plastic surgeon, Dr. McGee, and his wife Kathy. They had participated in a humanitarian trip to the Philippines to treat children suffering from orofacial deformities. Upon the trip’s conclusion, there were many children still in need of surgery, but the charity for which they were working did not have sufficient funds to stay longer. The McGees founded Operation Smile as a charity that would be able to work year-round to bring life-saving surgical interventions to those children who needed it most.
For his part, Dr. Weisfogel was also involved in his own blazing of medical trails. In 1999, he founded his first dental practice, Old Bridge Dental. Over the next 15 years he built his practice into one of the most respected dental offices in the state of New Jersey. Throughout this period, he began intensive research into the many different diseases of the head, neck and mouth area that dentists are in a unique position to diagnose. After years of combing over the literature, Dr. Weisfogel concluded that one spot where dentists could add tremendous value to the patient experience was through diagnosing sleep apnea at rates more commensurate with its occurrence in the general population.
Sleep apnea had long been known to the medical establishment but remained one of the most underdiagnosed conditions in the West. Despite over 90% of cases going unnoticed, the disease had a costly and potentially fatal course. Dr. Weisfogel saw an opening for dentists to help fight this insidious killer while also increasing sales of individual dental practices. In 2010, he founded Dental Sleep Masters as a means to train dentists on properly diagnosing sleep apnea in otherwise asymptomatic patients. This proved to be a huge success. Dr. Weisfogel eventually sold his practice to work on entrepreneurial pursuits and focus on his passion for charity.