In Louisa May Alcott’s book Little Women, Jo March exclaimed, “Christmas won’t be Christmas without presents!” Have you ever received a truly wonderful and memorable gift? I hope so. But as we all know, sometimes the greatest gifts do not come wrapped in shiny paper with bright bows.

I truly feel that I would not be here today if I had not listened to my wife and given her what she now calls the greatest gift I have ever given making my health a priority.

In 1996, I was waking up in the middle of the night, sitting up and gasping for air. My father died of a heart attack the year after we were married. My wife was afraid I was having heart problems. Our daughters were very young at the time and I was worried that I wouldn’t be there for all their important milestones.

My wife finally said, “I don’t know what’s wrong but please call your doctor.” I did call and was diagnosed with sleep apnea and used the only treatment option at the time, a CPAP machine. That call saved my life. Last year, I walked my daughter Jordan down the aisle!

It saddens me every time I think of all the concerned family members (usually women) who have told me, even with tears in their eyes that their loved ones refuse to get tested for sleep apnea. Having an overnight sleep study, and having a doctor interpret the results, is the only way to know if you have sleep apnea and importantly, what treatment options you have. An overnight sleep study can be done at a sleep center, or in your home using an ambulatory testing device.

It also saddens me that there are people who are CPAP intolerant and don’t know that there is another option- a dental sleep retainer.

It has become part of my mission to help educate people to the importance of testing for sleep apnea and to give those diagnosed with sleep apnea hope that they can improve the quality of their life, and be there for their family’s precious moments.

I feel truly honored to have helped over a thousand people save their relationships and their lives.


Aldon J. Hilton D.D.S.

Originally published at