Sleep is a growing field within medicine and dentistry, representing a key opportunity for practitioners to work together for patients’ total wellness. I have believed for a few years now that dental sleep medicine may be the “next big thing” for dentistry and the early adopter segment of the dentist population. I am happy to share insights on sleep, dentistry, and holistic wellness from Hiromi Inagaki, Chief Innovation Officer of Whole You, Inc., in this installment of 5 Questions With…
Michael Dunn: Tell us about Whole You. What products and services do you offer?
Hiromi Inagaki: Whole You is a new healthcare company offering innovative solutions that help those with sensory and physical mobility challenges experience their best life.
We have a human-centric approach, which is understood in two ways. First, the needs and aspirations of our patients as human inform the design and manufacture of all our products – we start with the patient and go from there. Second, we take an interdisciplinary approach and collaborate with subject matter experts in developing solutions that enable people to live life more fully.
Our first focus has been on oral appliances for sleep apnea and we plan to expand into other areas that address sensory and physical mobility. In the oral space, through the acquisitions of Respire Medical and DENTCA, we are combining our deep consumer understanding and the material science expertise of Whole You, with our partners’ industry knowledge as well as collaborating with subject matter experts from across the world to develop the next generation of products and services.
MD: How did Whole You begin? What was the “a-ha” moment?
HI: We spent a long time observing, listening and talking with consumers and realized that what people really want are solutions that can help them experience more and live a better life now. While we agree that it’s critically important to treat illnesses and disease, we also feel it’s important to help those with sensory and physical mobility challenges enjoy life to the fullest. For example, research has shown that improving one aspect of a patient’s life, such as the amount of quality sleep they get, can exponentially improve their quality of life.
MD: What makes Whole You’s products unique compared to similar products?
HI: As I mentioned at Whole You we have a human-centric approach in the design and manufacture of our products. We understand that every patient is different and to increase patient compliance with Sleep Appliances they need to be customized and adjustable. Whole You acquired Respire Medical, a lab that exclusively creates bespoke oral appliance solutions that can be customized to a patient’s specific requirements; we currently offer two Sleep Appliances, Respire Blue and Respire Pink.
Respire Blue is an easy and comfortable to wear appliance that features a dual block design with interlocking wings, and is personalized for each patient and provides more freedom in mouth movement, allowing you to talk, drink and yawn while you are wearing the device.
Respire Pink features an ergonomic design with telescopic hardware which is also personalized for each patient. The telescopic hardware allows lateral and vertical jaw movement, making it a suitable sleep apnea treatment for patients who also grind their teeth at night, plus it’s Medicare approved.
Further customization of these products is possible with the option to add elastic hooks and an anterior disclosing ramp as well as a choice for reduced lingual coverage.
MD: What trends do you think will have the biggest impact on the dental industry in the next 5 – 10 years?
HI: We will start to see a few things, such as:
- Sleep dentistry will become far more of an established field as dentists recognize the many benefits of treating patients suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and offer treatment with Sleep Appliances. As more and more people afflicted with the condition will be diagnosed, we’ll see patients take an ever more active role in researching and selecting their treatment options in partnership with their healthcare provider. Hence designing products and services that truly reflect patients’ voice and lifestyle aspirations is critical.
- There’ll be a more holistic look at dentistry. It’s becoming clearer that dental health has an impact on the whole body so we will see additional research and understanding in this area. For example, how oral health impacts cardiovascular disease as well as how the state of a patient’s oral health may indicate conditions such as acid reflux and diabetes.
- There will be better technology that leads to better results – technology will continue to evolve and play a role in better, more cost-effective oral health. For example, more advanced materials, better CAD/CAM technology and 3D printing will continue to improve oral health and the patient experience.
MD: What’s next for you and Whole You? What can we look forward to?
HI: You can expect to hear more about product and partnership news from Whole You. We look forward to keeping you updated.
Thank you to Hiromi and Whole You, Inc. for participating in this article. For more information on Whole You, please get in touch through their website. Thank you for reading.