Article and photos by Cindy Germain
A local Algoma dentist has had a personal journey to wellness and is now helping people sleep better. For those suffering from sleep apnea, the unique treatment Dr. Rebecca Havel provides may make a difference.
Sleep apnea, the lack of adequate oxygen during sleep, has been connected as a contributor to many chronic medical conditions. In addition to the primary impact of lesser oxygen, sleep apnea also affects REM sleep, the level of sleep needed to help the body rejuvenate overnight.
Dr. Havel’s journey began two years ago while experiencing some medical issues that led to a self-education and wellness quest. After being diagnosed with mild sleep apnea through a sleep study, she pursued options including functional appliances to address airway volume. Her search led to the Vivos appliance and ultimately the implementation of the treatment in her practice, including the installation of the 3D image machine that measures the volume of the airway.
“As I figured out my condition, I want to help more people,” said Dr. Havel.
Dr. Havel opened her practice, Algoma Lakeview Dental Care, in Algoma more than five years ago, having bought the practice from her childhood dentist. In an effort to provide a greater access to the Vivos appliance treatment, she recently opened up a second practice in Green Bay.
Dr. Havel says the process begins with an evaluation of the airway through the 3D image as well as pictures of the jaw joints and impressions of the teeth. A medical history and dental habits are also reviewed and with all of the evaluation information, she then consults with Dr. Dave Singh, the creator of the Vivos appliance, to devise a treatment plan.
An appliance that looks similar to an orthodontic retainer is designed based on the individual’s needs and worn at a minimum during sleep, although Dr. Havel indicates that additional wear time does expedite the treatment process.
As the treatment helps remodel bone structure to permanently open the airway, the person returns to the office monthly for adjustments, and in some cases, a new appliance may need to be placed as the treatment progresses. Dr. Havel has also referred some patients to a sleep study as another evaluation point and works closely with a local sleep specialist in Green Bay.
Having been in self-treatment for 20 months, Dr. Havel notes her airway volume has almost tripled. She reports better sleep, more dreams and most importantly, less pain, more energy and significant positive impact on medical conditions. She notes that the treatment generally costs the same as other orthodontic treatments but is not covered by dental plans. As the use and process of the Vivos appliance was approved for sleep apnea treatment two years ago, not all health insurance plans are providing coverage. In her efforts to help sleep apnea sufferers, Dr. Havel works with her clients to afford the process and experience the benefits.
Algoma Lakeview Dental Care is located at 1223 Lake Street. For more information call 920.487.5648 or visit drhavel.com.