Airway: The first Pillar
Ep. 3 : Total Health Dentistry with Dr. Ali
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- Planning guest lectures on his approach to Total Health Dentistry along with world-renowned Dr. Thomas Rau MD.
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Airway: The First Pillar
This episode is dedicated to Airway. I hope that if you’re not already an “airway advocate”, before long these episodes will make you into one…
In the first of its kind dentists-to-patient podcast, you’ll gain incredibly valuable insight into the mouth-body connection. You won’t hear any fluffy filler here. You’ll actually be able to connect the dots. Join us for a worthy jolt of insight on the Total Health Dentistry podcast with Dr. Ali.
Hey everyone, it’s Dr. Ali. In this episode, you’ll gain a worthy jolt of insight about airway, the first pillar of Total Health Dentistry. In the last episode, we discussed the three pillars of Total Health Dentistry. If you missed them, make sure you go back and check it out, as it will give this episode and future ones greater context. The three pillars again are airway, nutrition and structure. This episode is dedicated to airway. I hope that, if you’re not already, before too long these episodes will make you into an airway advocate. So in this episode we will discuss what is the master nutrient, how oxygen has shaped and transformed us as a species, what will our bodies do to get more oxygen, what effect is low oxygen having on children and their attention, learning and development.
Airway, well, what do we mean by that? In episode two, we discussed how airways are really soft tissue pipes that are very easy to compress, and when compressed, can dramatically decrease our oxygen intake. Let’s take a step back and talk about the most important nutrient. So I’ll ask you, what is the most important nutrient? What is the master nutrient? Is it antioxidants? Is it vitamin D or C or the Bs? Is it essential fats? Is it fiber? Or what about ADP, the master energy molecule? It’s very important.
Well, it’s oxygen. Oxygen is the master nutrient. Beyond the obvious, which is that we need it to live, oxygen has shaped us and other species over millions of years. Meaning those organisms, who evolved to grow more gills and appendages, which allowed them to capture more oxygen, well, they’re the ones that thrived. And they out competed those organisms who got less oxygen.
I want to share with you one of my earliest clinical experiences that got me thinking about oxygen in a very different way. I’m a practicing dentist who has always been concerned with why something is or isn’t happening. So one day, we were doing sedation on a patient for some surgical procedures. The patient fell into a light sleep and we all took a little break in the procedure. All of a sudden, while asleep, the patient took their lower jaw and violently smashed it up, down, left, right, straight out, colliding with whatever upper teeth were in its way. It was actually the most violent and scary scene I had seen in my entire dental career. And I couldn’t explain it, but I didn’t forget about it.
Couple of years later, a different patient, but virtually exactly the same deal, except this time, we had planned a long complex surgical procedure. And every time the patient fell into light sleep, we only had a short interval of time to get our work done, because unconsciously his mouth did the mouth earthquake, as I came to call it. Both of these patients were men in their 50s and had some excess adipose tissue in their throat and airway region, which, translation, they had an airway restriction all day long. And when they fell asleep and their lower jaw drifted back, their restriction got much worse. So fine, their airway became more restricted, but why did they have a mouth earthquake?
To answer that, I’d like to share with you a true story about Harry Houdini, the famous Hungarian-American illusionist and stunt performer from the early 1900s. I’m really hoping that this point you’re wondering what this has got to do with Total Health Dentistry. In 1912, Harry Houdini reached the pinnacle of his career with the Chinese Water Torture Cell. In this escape, Houdini was suspended by his feet and lowered upside down in a locked glass cabinet filled with water, requiring him to hold his breath for more than three minutes to escape. He then had to escape his locks, suspended upside down in a chamber of water. Now here’s the question. What would Houdini do to get oxygen?
The answer is anything. He or any of us would do anything to get more oxygen if we were in that situation. So, when these two patients fell into sleep and their airway started closing, what would they do to get more oxygen? Again, their body would consciously, or in this case subconsciously, do anything to get more oxygen. So by moving their lower jaw in any form, or shape, fashion violently without any regard for destroying their teeth, they would just do that. They were starving for oxygen and they would do anything to get free and get some air. We don’t do this when we don’t get enough vitamin C or healthy fats. We only do this when we were deprived of the master nutrient, which is oxygen.
So that’s for adults. But what effect is low oxygen having on children in terms of learning and development? As of 2019, there have been very few studies looking at this. But they are starting to come and the results are very interesting. Back in 2011 in the Annals of Clinical Psychiatry, a literature review, searching for a relationship between ADHD and obstructive sleep apnea, found six studies in PubMed with this connection. What they found is that 95% of ADHD patients had obstructive sleep apnea. 95% of ADHD patients had obstructive sleep apnea. And we’ll cover this, obstructive sleep apnea, in much greater detail in future episodes. And all six of these studies showed improvements in behavior, improvements in attention, and overall improvement in ADHD after the treatment of the obstructive sleep apnea. So in other words, in these six studies, improving airway, improved ADHD. And if you think obstructive sleep apnea only happens to adults, we will go into great detail how this is a major childhood phenomenon as well.
Thanks for joining us for this episode where we dove in a little deeper into the first pillar, airway. We looked at oxygen as the master nutrient. We looked at how oxygen has shaped and transformed us as a species. We also looked at what our bodies will do to get more oxygen. And we touched on some thoughts as to what children may be experiencing in terms of their attention and learning and development, if they were not getting sufficient oxygen. Please join us next time as we take a deeper dive into the second pillar, which is nutrition.
Please note that Dr. Ali Farahani is a general dentist and that Total Health Dentistry is not a specialty of dentistry. While we make every effort to broadcast correct information, dentistry is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor may have a different way of doing things from another. Dr. Ali Farahani is simply presenting his views and opinions that will be as evidenced based as possible. We welcome any comments, suggestions, or corrections of error.
Dr. Ali Farahani takes no money from drug or device companies. By listening to this podcast or reading this blog you agree not to use this podcast or blog as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or others, including, but not limited to patients that you are treating. Consult your own physician for any medical issues that you may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast or blog. Under no circumstances shall Sante Family Dental, Dr. A. Farahani Dentistry Professional Corporation or Dr. Ali Farahani, or any of their employees, associates, or affiliates, any of the guests or contributors to the podcast or blog, be responsible for damages arising from use of this podcast or blog.
The Three Pillars