The Australian profiles Oventus Medical’s oral appliance, the O2 Vent.

Chris Hart was clutching at straws, figuratively and literally. On a work trip to Mount Isa, the Brisbane dentist was tired of feeling tired, of having his busy days sabotaged by nights with sleep apnoea.

As he drank more coffee in a city cafe, Hart fiddled around with drinking straws on the table, fashioning a rudimentary prototype of a device to help him breathe. That night, desperate for a decent sleep, he rigged up some dental tubes and glue in hope it would keep his airway clear during the night.

“And it worked,” Hart says of that unplanned experiment in 2012. “I then made one out of wax and tried that, but I chewed through it because it was soft. Then I had my lab assistant make one out of plastic, but it was time consuming and I thought we needed better.”