Uzelac named Diplomate of American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine

Uzelac named Diplomate of American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine

Patients who want expert oral appliance therapy care for sleep apnea can now turn to Porter County’s only Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine for care. Michael Uzelac, founder of Sleep Airway Solutions in Valparaiso – a dental practice dedicated to providing care for sleep apnea patients – was named a Diplomate of the ABDSM in July after completing years of study and a rigorous exam.

The designation puts Uzelac on the forefront if this kind of dental care in Indiana. He is one of only two providers in Northwest Indiana and 13 in the state with Diplomate designation.

“Being a diplomate means I have achieved the highest level of education in this discipline,” Uzelac said. “My education in dental sleep medicine has entailed taking classes over the last five years. The Diplomate test itself could cover any topic of dental sleep medicine, so I prepped for the test for months and took mock tests as well before the exam.”

But the education doesn’t stop there. Uzelac has committed to mainlining at least 25 hours of approved education at least every two years in the field of dental sleep medicine, and to being a member in good standing by following all protocols of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine.

At Sleep Airway Solutions, Uzelac treat patients with obstructive sleep apnea using oral appliance therapy – devices that look like retainers or mouth guards and serve to help pull the jaw forward to keep the neck’s muscles from relaxing and blocking the airway during sleep. The treatment is drastically different than the CPAP machine, which uses forced air via a mask or nasal tubes to keep the airway open.

According to the Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine, studies have demonstrated that oral appliance therapy effectively treats patients with obstructive sleep apnea by reducing the number of respiratory disturbances and the apnea-hypopnea index in patients when they sleep. The index measures the severity of a person’s obstructive sleep apnea by looking at the number of pauses in breathing (apneas) and the degree of oxygen desaturation in the blood. A normal AHI is less than five, while severe is 30 or over.

Uzelac said oral appliance therapy can be particularly effective for people who do not respond well to or won’t wear their CPAP machines, which are often the first-line therapy for obstructive sleep apnea.

“If 50% of patients won’t even wear their CPAP, they aren’t getting any relief or treatment at all. Studies have indicated that up to 93% of patients are compliant with oral appliance therapy,” he said. In addition, Uzelac said oral appliance therapy can be used in conjunction with CPAP treatment to help reduce the pressure of the forced air.

Obstructive sleep apnea and the excessive snoring that comes with it isn’t just annoying for the patient and those around them. It can be deadly.

Obstructive sleep apnea has been linked to long-term sleep deprivation, poor heart health, depression, dangerous daytime sleepiness, and high blood pressure, among other issues, and could exacerbate other medical conditions.

Wearing an oral appliance provides the same short and long-term health benefits as a CPAP, but it’s important to have OAT coordinated by a qualified dentist, who also works closely with a patient’s primary medical provider for the treatment of sleep apnea.

Sleep Airway Solutions welcomes patients with obstructive sleep apnea for a full evaluation to determine if oral appliance therapy is right for them. The office is in network with Anthem, Cigna and Medicare, and works with all other medical insurance companies as well. To learn more or make an appointment, visit them at or call 219-286-6461.