Can a Northeast Ohio dentist's laser treatment cure snoring?

Can a Northeast Ohio dentist's laser treatment cure snoring?

STRONGSVILLE, OH (WOIO) - When Stephanie Firment found out about a laser treatment that could rid her husband of his snoring, she was excited, and he was receptive. The pair headed to Strongsville Dental Associates to try Night Lase.

It works by tightening and toning the tissue of the soft palate, creating new collagen cells, slowly heating the tissue to allow your body to start helping itself.

"It just started off as a subtle nodding off, kind of soft snore," said Stephanie Firment.

That soft tap she was giving her husband eventually turned into an elbow jab.

"It would make me mad. I'm like 'What are you doing?' She'd say, 'stop snoring.' And that was fine ... seemed like one nudge and we were good. Then it was lots of nudges," said Paul Firment.

Stephanie finally kicked her husband out of their bedroom.

"It's no fun sleeping in the other room, to be honest with you. I like a nice warm body," joked Paul. "Right after the first one, within a day you can tell you can breathe better."

Dr. Chris Theodorou and his associate Dr. John Heffernan were trained by the maker of the laser, Fotona, and honed their skills with the pioneer of the procedure. Both the laser and the procedure are FDA regulated.

Paul said he was comfortable during the procedure and had no pain.

"When you first get it done there's a huge difference between the original blockage and where you end up," he said.

It takes three sessions three weeks apart to see the full results of Night Lase. And happy wives like Stephanie sing its praises.

"By the third treatment …Oh my gosh. He would lay down ... nothing. He'd fall right asleep. A godsend, honestly," she said.

The treatment is said to reduce about 80 percent of snoring. It can also help patients with sleep apnea.

"In sleep apnea you have difficulty getting air in. When you're laying back at night your throat is almost closed. This treatment elevates the soft tissue that's hitting your tongue and closing your throat," said Heffernan.

It won't cure sleep apnea altogether but you'll likely be able to ditch that cumbersome CPAP mask and trade it for something much smaller, he said

Now Stephanie and Paul are both sleeping soundly.

"It's much better. I'm sleeping so I don't know. But it's a lot better from what my family tells me," Paul said.

The results, however, are not permanent.

Patients need annual appointments to maintain their quiet sleeping environment. But it's one session instead of three, a third of the initial expense, which is anywhere from $1,800 to $ 2,300. The procedure is not currently not covered by insurance. But Heffernan said he thinks that could change.

"I think once we get a better body of work between the dentists now who are doing this, I think they'll see the benefit of having their patients treated with this instead of paying for all the expensive equipment," he said.

The Firments said it was a worthwhile investment in their health and their relationship.

"Just getting that sleep that's so critical when you're a mom, and you're working ... putting on all these hats," Stephanie said.

The dentists joked that with the help of Night Lase, they might add "marriage counselor" to their list of services.

Watch the story May 8 at 11 p.m. on Cleveland 19.

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