Twenty years ago I couldn’t keep my eyes open, not just on the couch in front of the evening news, but at important meetings. It was not simply embarrassing, it was disastrous. As I’m sure you already anticipated, I was eventually diagnosed with sleep apnea. My doctor advised surgery to remove a portion of the back of my soft palate and my tonsils. What he didn’t advise me about was how excruciating the surgery and its aftermath would be. After what felt like an interminably slow and painful recovery period, the surgery didn’t cure my sleep apnea. Nor did the unwieldy CPAP that was supposed to enhance my quality of sleep but was so cumbersome that it kept awakening me. Both the condition and its treatments had taken a prolonged effect on me.


It wasn’t until I met Dr. David Binder, DDS, a well-known expert on the treatment of sleep apnea and snoring, with over 23 years experience and was fitted with a dental appliance that I finally pushed my sleep apnea out of the bedroom and out of my life. The increase in my energy level and alertness was palpable. And exciting. I was in my 60s and felt better than I had in my 40s.


I’ve made films over many years and was so inspired by Dr. Binder and his commitment to treating sleep apnea that I wound up creating a video project about his work. He and I have currently completed the first stage of the project, which is about his dental practice.  This first video not only highlights Dr. Binder’s personal approach to treating sleep apnea, but also emphasizes the dental industry’s positive impact generally on the effects of sleep apnea. I had learned the hard way that treating sleep apnea can be tough, but that it needn’t be – I can’t help but wish I’d met Dr. Binder before I went through all that I did.  I’m very glad that he is using the video on his website, on social media and in his lectures. The video, as well as another about Dr. Binder’s working relationship with me, can be seen at www.gtncreative.com.  I’ll be making a series of films with him that can inform people about sleep apnea’s broader impact on our personal health and the safety of the general public.


Dr. Binder works closely with sleep doctors who utilize the MATRx during sleep studies to ascertain whether a dental appliance will be effective for a particular patient.  He believes that dentists need to build relationships with physicians who treat the condition. He’s a proponent of teaching sleep apnea treatment at both dental and medical schools. And so as part of our ongoing project, I will be filming Dr. Binder and Dr. Omar Burschtin, M.D., Director of the Integrative Sleep Medicine Program at The Mount Sinai Hospital about their working relationship, the importance of coordination between the dentist and physician and the value of the dental appliance in treating sleep apnea. Fully half of sleep apnea patients will not be able to use the more traditional CPAP, making the dental appliance a critical alternative.


As dentists who treat sleep apnea know, the condition is an under-diagnosed killer. The series of videos I am creating with Dr. Binder can shine a light on sleep apnea that can get more people tested and — importantly — then get them the help that can save their lives. In addition to chronicling the fascinating synergy between the dentistry and medical fields and its profound importance for patients, other plans include filming a number of Dr. Binder’s patients, whose different stories reflect the diversity of sleep apnea’s impact on lives, as well as the meaningful relationships these patients forge with Dr. Binder himself. My aim is to bring the viewer right into the heart and mind of a video’s subject…and each of these patients has a compelling tale to tell.


And their stories are layered — Dr. Binder has taught me that the dangers of sleep apnea extend beyond the suffers themselves. In fact, some sleep apnea patients can actually pose safety hazards to the larger public. It chills me to think that I could have fallen asleep at the wheel with my child in the car. Now imagine someone with sleep apnea who drives or flies for a living. Dr. Binder and I will be filming train engineers, pilots, and truck drivers who are on the road or flying places. Dr. Binder feels that there needs to be mandatory testing and the offer of oral appliance therapy as an alternative treatment if these patients can’t use CPAP. Now a compliance monitor works in the device as well. So simple, and yet so smart.


Among the patients of Dr. Binder that I will be filming is one who suffers from Atrial Fibulation. Dr. Burschtin has discovered that there’s a link between arrhythmia and sleep apnea. If the sleep apnea is not controlled, the drug therapy and the interventional therapy he prescribes for the arrhythmia can’t hold long term.  Dr. Binder predicts, too, that people suffering from Alzheimer’s will be another class of patients and posits that treatment of mild sleep apnea might help stave off or minimize Alzheimer’s down the road. These are all parts of the story he and I are telling in our multi-part video project.


I’m available to consult with other dentists about how to create an effective message through video that can be put on their website and other forms of social media to increase their consults and visibility. Professionally done videos on websites and social media can increase traffic up to 70%. Well-crafted videos can showcase your practice and create greater impact to stand out from others. They can feature techniques, personal messages, testimonials from patients and other elements to make the case for your practice. But these videos can’t simply be an exposition of a procedure. They need to connect on an emotional level as well as a rational level. This is where having an experienced documentary filmmaker can make a huge difference in the impact you want to create. To find out more about how I can help you and your practice, you can view my website at www.gtncreative.com.  In the meantime, I am honored to be able to increase exposure about how dentistry can improve and even save lives of sleep apnea suffers such as myself.

George Nierenberg

George Nierenberg

Director/Producer and Founder of GTN Creative, George T. Nierenberg is an acclaimed filmmaker whose career has spanned the worlds of independent features, network, cable and international television, and corporate videos. His work has been released by MGM/UA, appeared on CBS, ABC, Bravo, BCC, and has earned numerous illustrious honors, establishing him as a producer/director with a knack both for managing complex productions and for bringing his subjects to life. He is known for his ability to create visually strong stories that bring out the humanity in their subjects and reach audiences on an emotional level. Which is why corporate clients like Pfizer, Cisco, McDonald’s, Mercedes-Benz, IBM, Zeiss, and the National Patient Safety Foundation have sought Mr. Nierenberg for one simple reason: His work is unique, creative and focused.

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