Sleep disorder specialists in the US and Canada are looking to India to procure cheap dental sleep devices to treat sleep disorders.
"Our consortium is trying to network to provide cost-effective sleep disorder treatment and devices in India," John Remmers, a pioneer in the study of sleep disorder based in Calgary, Canada, told IANS.
Besides Remmers, the consortium would include Christian Guilleminault, known as the father of sleep medicine, and his associate Sathya Kallur, a dental surgeon who shuttles between New York and Bangalore where he has clinics.
The specialists are looking at the possibility of setting up clinics in the country in association with the Indian Dental Forum.
"The group will focus on dental sleep medicine and open clinics for cost- effective treatment and oral devices," said Rummers.
Oral or sleep apnea appliances are devices that are worn in the mouth during sleep to reposition the lower jaw so that the airway is supported in such a way that air can flow more freely.
This reduces or eliminates snoring and can treat sleep apnea, leading to a more restful night. Sleep apnea is a condition where people stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep.
It is estimated that 20 percent of the population anywhere snores, which is a major indication of a disruptive sleep pattern.
"India could well become a cost- effective manufacturing hub for the oral device, which is currently very expensive," said Sunil Sharma, Director of Sleep Medicine Research at the University of South Carolina.
The dental device is not always effective. Continued use is suggested only after evaluation of a patient during sleep after the treatment has been initiated.
In case of failure, one of the options is to go for corrective laser surgery of the tissue behind the throat, which controls the air passageway.
Sharma is currently researching on how yoga exercises can help improve sleep pattern.
With not many sleep disorder specialists in India, the experts see possibilities of collaborating through tele-medicine, with data collected by a sleep recorder being transmitted for automated interpretation in the US or Canada, as both countries have special clinics in thousands.
In the capital to attend the workshop-cum-conference Sleepcon 2005 organised by the Indian Sleep Disorders Association (ISDA) in collaboration with the Vardhaman Mahavir Medical College and Safdarjung Hospital, Remmers said he was planning to make his own device to detect sleep disorder.
Called the Remmers Sleep Recorder, the device costing $7,000 is able to provide a sleep breathing pattern test at home for $5, as against the more expensive gold standard Polysomnography for more extensive tests.
"In March I will be back to kick off a symposium and promotion. I am here to promote my device, which has been in use for four years in Calgary. Every night around 40 recorders go out for recording the sleep pattern of people," said Remmers.
While keen to supply the recorder in India, Remmers is also looking for Indian manufacturers willing to produce the device here to make it more affordable.