Dr. Jay Nelson has sold his dental practice and now focuses dental sleep medicine and specifically helping those who suffer from sleep apnea at his Nelson Dental Sleep Medicine practice located off S.R. 56 in Wesley Chapel. (Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Nelson)

After decades of practicing dentistry, Dr. Jay Nelson, D.M.D (Doctor of Dental Medicine), has sold his dental practice in Lutz to focus exclusively on dental sleep medicine.

It’s been his passion for more than a decade, since he first took a course that he says sparked his interest.

As his knowledge, expertise and dental sleep medicine practice have grown over more than 10 years, it led Dr. Nelson to sell his dental practice, located off S.R. 54 in Lutz, in January. He had originally opened that practice in 1987, about the same time he moved to New Tampa, where he still lives.

In April of this year, he opened Nelson Dental Sleep Medicine on Foggy Creek Rd., in the Cypress Creek Professional Center off of S.R. 56 (less than a mile east of I-75).

The move to the new office allows him to focus fully on treating those who suffer from sleep apnea “We’re actually saving lives,” Dr. Nelson says.

Building on what he learned while earning his D.M.D. degree at the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine in Philadelphia, Dr. Nelson has since earned advanced certifications from professional organizations such as the Academy of Laser Dentistry (ALD), Academy of Comprehensive Esthetics (ACE) and the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine (AADSM).

Frances Cameli (left) and Betsy Ramos both worked with Dr. Nelson at his dental practice and have now joined him at his Nelson Dental Sleep Medicine office.

Nelson Dental Sleep Medicine is the only facility in Florida and one of the first 20 dental offices in the U.S. to be accredited by the AADSM.

Recently, Dr. Nelson was one of only two dentists asked to speak before the 21st annual Current Concepts in Sleep medical conference, where he taught virtually to a national audience.

His team at his new office includes Frances Cameli, who worked in his previous practice for more than 10 years and serves as the dental sleep manager in the front office, while Betsy Ramos, who also came from Dr. Nelson’s previous practice, serves as the office’s clinical assistant.

Dr. Nelson offers a free consultation to people who wonder if their snoring might be a sign they have a serious underlying condition. And often, it’s not the patient who suggests they visit Dr. Nelson, but those who have to sleep within earshot of them.

“We save marriages, too,” Dr. Nelson says, referring to those couples who sleep separately because of the disturbances from snoring.

To find out if you’re at risk for sleep apnea, Dr. Nelson suggests using Google to search for the “STOP BANG” survey questionnaire. It asks questions about snoring, tiredness and other risk factors. There also is a similar assessment (that requires personal information to be entered) on the Nelson Dental Sleep Medicine website: SleepBetterFlorida.com/take-our-quiz. 

Sleep apnea is a condition affecting more than 200,000 people in the U.S. each year. It causes patients to stop breathing for brief periods of time during sleep, which can lead to drowsiness that increases risk for auto and other accidents, as well as an increased risk of overall mortality, strokes and cancer.

“If you have symptoms of sleep apnea,” he says, “get tested or get treated.”

Obstructive sleep apnea is a medical condition, so those who see Dr. Nelson will be referred for evaluation at a sleep testing center, as well as to their primary care physician for diagnosis.

The standard treatment for obstructive sleep apnea has been to pump a continuous stream of air into a patient’s nose or mouth while sleeping. This method — using a Continuous Positive Air Pressure (or CPAP) system — is effective, but many people find the CPAP machine cumbersome and uncomfortable to use, Dr. Nelson says, resulting a high failure rate, usually due to patient non-compliance.

“We know that 50% of people who start on a CPAP give it up within a year,” explains Dr. Nelson, “so we provide an alternative to that.”

Instead of the unwieldy, scary-looking CPAP machine, Dr. Nelson makes an FDA approved oral appliance that is adjusted to position the tongue and jaw to allow greater airflow to the lungs while sleeping. 

“Many people find the oral appliances more comfortable than the CPAP,” Dr. Nelson says, explaining that those who have been diagnosed with mild or moderate sleep apnea can begin using an oral appliance, while those who have severe sleep apnea should start with the CPAP. If they are not able to comfortably use the CPAP, they then become a candidate for an oral appliance. Nelson Dental Sleep Medicine does offer both types of appliances.

Ed Sapiega is one of Dr. Nelson’s patients, who first came to him about three years ago. Tired of the hassle of lugging his CPAP machine around while he traveled, Ed was thrilled with the appliance that Dr. Nelson made for him.

“I had lived with a CPAP machine for years,” Ed says, “The noises it made prevented my wife from sleeping almost as much as my snoring did.”

Recently, Ed’s original oral appliance broke, and he went back to Dr. Nelson for a new one. However, he found out that since he first became Dr. Nelson’s patient, an even better device (above) has become available.

“It’s quite fantastic,” he says. “It’s easy to use, and there’s no pain and no strain. I didn’t have to go through a process of learning to sleep with it.”

He says that while he was very happy with his first device, times have changed, and his new one, while from the same company, is much better.

“Compared to the CPAP, it’s very convenient and extremely effective,” Ed says. “Dr. Nelson is very good with these devices and keeps very current. I’m extremely pleased.”

Ed adds that Dr. Nelson was able to accommodate him very quickly, and he has nothing but good things to say about him. “He’s a very pleasant dentist and professional to deal with.”

Because the treatment is for a medical condition, Dr. Nelson and his staff help patients navigate the confusing world of medical insurance and accept Care Credit, which offers payment plans for those who have out-of-pocket expenses.

Nelson Dental Sleep Medicine is located at 26907 Foggy Creek Rd., Suite 101, in Wesley Chapel. To make an appointment or for additional information, visit SleepBetterFlorida.com or call (813) 733-4169.

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