It all started because Dan Webster snored. Exiled to the living room couch so his wife Katrina could catch up on her sleep after the birth of their second child, Dan had surgery on his airway in the hope of regaining his place in the bedroom. The elective procedure was not covered by insurance, and after a long and painful recovery period, the snoring returned. It was then that Dan began to research oral appliance therapy, and soon, the couple decided to create their own anti-snoring device.
In 2008, in cooperation with an engineer and a dental sleep practitioner, the Websters created ZQuiet. The FDA approved the device, a patent was procured, and Sleeping Well LLC was born. Dan explained that the partial collapse of the airway creates the vibration that leads to snoring. ZQuiet works by advancing a person’s lower jaw to open that airway.
“Mandibular advance appliances have been around for decades,” Dan said, “but generally they were customized and made in a dental lab, requiring an impression. We wanted to create a simple, effective, affordable solution to help solve the snoring problem that millions suffer with.”
During the couple’s research, they learned that there are over 90 million snorers in the United States whose partners lose an average of one hour of quality sleep each night. The result is that one in five couples sleep in separate bedrooms.
“We were trying to solve Dan’s problem,” said Trina, “but it turned into a large undertaking which was spurred by a mission to help others, as well.”
Dan and Trina met at Colorado College and spent six years in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Dan was a stone and metal sculptor and Trina directed a non-profit foundation. Since Dan’s family was in the east, they headed that direction, and decided that Vermont was the state which had a vibe that was closest to what they were looking for. “We wanted a real community,” said Trina.
The couple has been in the same house in Shelburne Village ever since. At first Trina worked at VPR and Dan worked in the insurance and financial planning sector, but ZQuiet is now their full-time job.
The couple has sold almost 60,000 appliances, and revel in the emails they get thanking them for their product. One customer wrote that he was just about to sign the contract to turn his garage into a spare bedroom when he discovered ZQuiet, saving him tens of thousands of dollars.
ZQuiet is only sold online, but customers across the United States and some across the ocean have discovered it. It must be manufactured in an FDA-regulated establishment, so that work is done in Minnesota, but there is a customer service center in Plattsburgh and the couple is pleased that they are able to utilize the talents of a group of adults with disabilities for packaging. The product line has expanded to include specially tailored devices which are ordered by medical and dental professionals.
Trina noted that most people don’t realize there is a solution to snoring. She said that since it isn’t a medical problem, most physicians can’t help, and people don’t realize that a dentist can provide assistance.
“What’s unique about our story,” said Dan, “is we are a couple that had a problem and worked to solve it, and now we can share a solution with millions of other people who need relief.”