Types of Assessments and what to look for

So many of us take our health for granted until something life-changing happens, and our health or a loved one becomes at risk…..but if we start now looking at our body, how we feel, and how we are breathing, we can live better lives. 

We have been told diet, exercise, and a good night’s sleep are all key to a healthy life. That is true, but we have been missing a key piece to that trifecta of how we breathe.

Being able to breathe is the most important. Airway dysfunction is one of the many things being overlooked when we are kids that is a precursor for disease in the body. 

We have an epidemic of breathing disorders and c pap machines. It is important to bring awareness to parents to look for these signs in our children, so they do not grow up to be adults suffering from chronic health issues due to problems related to sleep-disordered breathing.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have prominent cheekbones, full lips, straight teeth, and a wide strong jawline. Those facial features everyone wants and we define as beautiful people.

There are generally four types of assessments we have when seeking medical treatment: an initial health assessment, a problem-focused assessment, an emergency assessment, and a needs.  

One of the first things you should do before seeking treatment is to conduct a needs assessment. This assessment of needs then informs a professional what approach to take by helping you identify and targeted strategies, prioritize resources and devise an overall plan. A needs assessment helps you determine what needs to be accomplished to reach your project goals.

A needs assessment serves as an incredibly powerful tool for decision-making for your care. 

Not sure where to begin? Ask yourself: Why are you conducting the needs assessment, and what do you plan to do with the information you find? For example, are you looking to solve a specific problem, or are you taking ownership of your health and starting from where you’re at today and devising a plan to be and stay healthy?

Most people only go to the Dr if they are having an issue. Well, checks are something we take our kids to the pediatrician for we generally stop around the age of two. Well, checks are recommended once a year. But how many of us actually go to the Dr. once a year for a wellness check? I would like to know the answer to this question. I know in my job, many parents only bring their kids to the dentist for the required school checks to register for school.

Consider how much time and money we devote to sick care in the United States. 

I have been lucky enough to find a Dr. who says, “If you are not testing, you are guessing.” What I am learning through my personal journey is that she is absolutely correct. We do blood work to see where I am at to see what my body is lacking and what my needs are, especially with my Cancer markers. I had no idea this was even possible until I got Cancer and met her. Imagine all of the pain, loss of time with my family, and money I could have saved if I had known this was possible and tested once a year before I was diagnosed with Cancer.

I don’t know where I would be if it were not for her and Jojo, my physical therapist. I did not know any of this information before I got sick. When you know better, you can do better. This is why I share. This is why I became a myofunctional therapist.

I now know my mouth breathing, and lifestyle choices contribute to my illness. Collaboration with many different professionals is what we need to become healthy and stay healthy.  

We are searching and seeking advice every day on staying healthy, dieting, exercising, and getting better sleep.  I have been told several times prevention does not sell. People want you to solve a problem they are having. You don’t want to have to educate them first on what you are selling them if you want to support your family while helping others.  They are correct, but I am stubborn and want to help make a difference where I needed help when I was younger, and my daughter was little. 

My Mom did not know what to look for, and neither did I. Even though I am a dental hygienist and her dad was a Dentist, we have worked in the mouth our whole lives we had no idea the problem was right under our noses.

I  had nose bleeds and sore throats every month growing up. My tonsils and adenoid were enlarged, and I could not breathe. I had my tonsil removed at the age of 16. But no one addressed the cause or even looked at how I was breathing. 

I struggled in school with learning disabilities and dyslexia. We did not talk about sleep-disordered breathing and how mouth breathing leads to 18% less oxygen to our brains. I was lucky if I had three consecutive hours of sleep most of my life. 

Because we are not looking at how we breathe as one of the first assessments when we talk about health, but times are changing! We are now seeing more and more kids being diagnosed with ADHD and more adults on c-pap machines. Both of these things started with breathing. Something that was not even part of an assessment. 

Why do we need an airway assessment?

What we are seeing more often in our kids are a long narrow face, open lips, and a tiny jaw. Mostly because this generation was breastfed less and weaned to a softer, more processed diet. We are chewing less and mouth breathing more. 

We are living in a more toxic environment, and mouth breathing is becoming the norm.

Airway breathing assessments are going to be one of the most important assessments we can have moving forward. Oxygen is the # one element we all need to survive and thrive! It just makes sense that we should check our airways and breathe first. Don’t you agree?

There is a  new interdisciplinary healthcare approach called airway centric that can help save your life.

The airway-centric model aims at preventing sleep-disordered breathing that has a negative impact on overall health to help people of all ages sleep and breathe more effectively so they can function better in all areas of life.

When we know better, we can do better.

Collaboration cure is the new model. No one healthcare professional knows everything. Our bodies are very complex, different, great at making compensations, and ever-changing due to our environment.

Airway dentistry focuses on addressing common and complex concerns related to the structure of the bite and palate, which affects how you breathe. Science has shown that many adult sleep issues are related to undiagnosed oral development concerns.

There is an Airway Centric paradigm shift in dentistry. The term AirwayCentric® was created to give healthcare practitioners and consumers a new way of looking at dentistry and healthcare. We invite you to be part of the change.

In 2009, during breakfast together, Howard Hindin, and Michael Gelb, both dentists, were discussing their TMD /sleep practices and realized how many of the patients they treated they should never have had to see. Their sleep and airway problems were there for years, probably from childhood – maybe even from before birth. 

Without the airway problem ever being discovered by the patient or practitioner, interventions provided only symptomatic and temporary relief. The increased cost of compensating for a restricted airway continued to be expressed and took a toll on health, function, and performance problems. There was an issue is in search of recognition. We cannot treat it unless we recognize there is a problem in the first place.

What is a paradigm shift? A paradigm shift is defined as an important change that happens when the usual way of thinking or doing something is replaced by a new and different way. 

There is a transformational and fundamental change in the way of thinking and behaving. This change is driven by new information and societal needs. Did anyone think we would be so connected to our cell phones 40 years ago? Paradigm shifts are characterized by periods of denial, ridicule, attack, growing belief, and finally, acceptance. We have known about this for some time. George Catlin wrote the book “Shut Your Mouth Save Your Life” in the 1800s. Yet we are just now looking at the implications mouth breathing has on our overall health and well-being.

For many years the practice of dentistry was focused on dental health, the care and repair of teeth, and supporting structures. We call it the “tooth paradigm.” Dental specialties, the “dontics” ‘ such as prosthodontics, endodontics, periodontics, and orthodontics, were created to focus on specific parts of this dental universe, much like medical specialties,  Pediatrics, cardiology, oncology, and neurology. You get the point. We break it down to a specific area of the body.

Teeth, their internal and external structures, and how they occluded were and, for the most part, are still the focus of dental education and practice.

The past few years have seen a growth in sleep and dental sleep medicine. Today there are over 100 appliances approved for treating sleep apnea. 

Dentists and pediatricians are increasingly screening for proper nasal breathing and restricted frenums. 

Integrated medicine physicians and dentists are realizing the sleep/nutrition connection and the need for co-diagnosis and co-treatment. It is said that paradigm shifts are propelled when the current paradigm is not working. The increase of chronic health, learning and performance problems to epidemic levels require, rather demands, a new paradigm.

Researchers continue to show the importance of sleep and airway and their effects on growth, development, and learning (Bonuck), memory (Nedergaard), ADHD (Gozal and Sheldon), and dementia (Ancoli-israel). This scientific support provides comfort and courage to look at things differently.

Breathing is life, and an insufficient airway can cause us to not get enough air to meet our body’s needs. Breathing problems can produce health issues elsewhere in your body, which can vary considerably from individual to individual. Are any of these issues problematic for you?

  • Do you suffer from clenching, grinding, or gritting your teeth?
  • Do you have a history of having to have an expander for braces?
  • Does your tongue have teeth marks on it from pressing your tongue up against your teeth all the time?
  • Do you snore?
  • Have you been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA)? As many as 30 million Americans suffer from OSA, while reportedly, an estimated 10 million more remain still undiagnosed.
  • Do you wake yourself up from sleep gasping or choking?
  • What about chronic headaches, neck aches, or backaches?
  • Do your jaws pop or click when you open and close your mouth?
  • How is your blood pressure? A little bit high?
  • What about your blood sugar? Is it high?
  • Are you struggling with your weight?
  • Have you had teeth removed for orthodontic reasons?
  • What about your digestion? Is it great? Or do you have bowel issues?
  • What about anxiety or depression?
  • Do you feel anxious often?

If any of these apply to you, you should determine whether airway issues are involved.

Often, one of the early warning signs of sleep apnea & sleep-disordered breathing is the disturbance of the natural sleeping cycle by snoring, grinding, clenching, or gritting. The snorer likely doesn’t know these disruptions are even occurring. While snoring itself can keep your bed partner awake, it can also represent a serious health risk.  And grinding, clenching, or gritting of the teeth will destroy teeth, either by wear, fracture, or abfraction.

Dramatic changes in health by dental assessment and interventions that could not be explained and were not believable or widely accepted are suddenly viewed as plausible and possible when airway function is considered. 

This is why we are seeing more Medical and dental organizations holding combined meetings on topics of collaborative care. interdisciplinary approaches in care working together to treat the body as a whole rather than just treating the symptoms. 

Looking at the nose, throat, muscles of the tongue, face, neck – and – beyond to the rest of the body. Suddenly it is all related. We are fixing more than the teeth. We are fixing the person, restoring more optimal health and function.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has issued a statement that we should include a mandatory screening for sleep apnea through questionnaires for their patients. 

The world is changing.

Dr. Weston Price wrote a book called “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration.” He studied the 14 longest-lived societies on the planet and tried to figure out what they had in common. He discovered that they had the lowest rates of heart disease, diabetes, and cancer, among other things. Because he was a dentist, he also looked at their teeth and their dental and jaw development. 

That makes us very lucky because he THOUGHT to look at their teeth. Unfortunately, the medical profession tends to look past the teeth and doesn’t even think of the teeth as an integral part of the body. Dr. Price believed that oral health and systemic health were intimately connected. This is why many consider him to be the father of Biological dentistry.

Dr. Price’s research discovered that the longest-lived societies also had the best teeth – their jaws were well developed and broad, their teeth were straight, and they had very little dental decay or gum disease. This was a fascinating finding because, at the time, Dr. Price was seeing a huge increase in dental decay and periodontal disease in modern society patients. The societies he studied were from all over the world. They were unconnected – meaning – they really did not participate in modern world things, and they were disconnected from each other – from the Inuit in Alaska to the Native tribes of Africa.

What all of the societies had in common was a diet high in saturated fats (something that the modern medical establishment has been telling us is a bad thing), high in fermented foods (things like pickles, kombucha, kefir, yogurt, sauerkraut, and kimchi), high in mineral-rich bone broths (these societies lived snout to tail, and wasted nothing, not even the bones of the animals they ate), as well as no real processed sugars. Even things like honey and maple syrup were a rare, occasional treat, not the norm. In contrast, modern society has increasing numbers of people with rotten, crooked teeth, poor periodontal health, and much higher rates of cancer, heart attacks, diabetes, and other modern diseases.

The other significant researcher to have done some seriously important work was Francis Pottenger. If you research “Pottenger’s Cats,” it’s fascinating!  While studying the effects of nutrition on cats, he removed their adrenal glands. Putting aside the animal ethics,  the research was the first of its kind to prove that nutritional injury was a real thing and that it could affect succeeding generations.

To summarize Mr. Pottenger’s research, what he did was study what diet did to cats. Cats are SUPPOSED to eat raw meat and raw milk. They are carnivores. So, Mr. Pottenger fed a group of cats he studied their natural diet. But he fed other groups of cats different diets. One group got pasteurized milk. One group got powdered milk. One group got evaporated milk. One group got sweetened condensed milk. And then he simply let them do what animals do – they procreated. 

What he found was that the first generation of cats, after the initial dietary changes, got crooked teeth. 

The second generation of cats got scoliosis in addition to even more crooked teeth. 

The third generation had hip dysplasia, scoliosis, and crooked and congenitally missing teeth and was starting to have fertility issues. And by the fourth generation, the cats began having reproductive issues.

This is the concept of epigenetic generational nutritional injury. Say what? In other words, what your grandparents ate/failed to eat, might eventually come to haunt you and your children. Mr. Pottenger discovered that it took 3 generations to do that damage. And 9 generations to UNDO it!

Now think about what we put in our bodies and what is happening to our future generations. How what you eat now will affect your kids, grandkids, and great-grandkids?

What does all of this have to do with Airway Centered Dentistry? Well, if you take Mr. Pottenger’s research and apply it to humans, what are we noticing about our modern society’s illnesses? 

Where crooked teeth used to be a fairly rare thing, MOST people nowadays have VERY crooked teeth. Very few people can get away with NOT needing some kind of orthodontic care. Very few people have enough room for their wisdom teeth. And it turns out that other parts of his research are playing true. Most of us know someone who has back problems, scoliosis, or degenerative discs. 

That was quite rare 100 years ago. And almost ALL of us have either experienced infertility or have close friends who are experiencing infertility. 

Meaning, that epigenetically speaking, we are on the cusp of generations 3 and 4 if we apply the same timeline of degenerative conditions from Mr. Pottenger’s research to what is happening in our own society. OUR AIRWAYS ARE COLLAPSING! 

Dr. Price showed us what our teeth are supposed to look like and how our nutrition should look for optimal human health

Mr. Pottenger showed us what happens when we screw nutrition up over the generations.

Now, putting ALL of that together – see the effects of an ineffective airway on our overall health.

Treatment Without Surgery or CPAP

Dental Alternatives offers both effective snoring relief and an alternative to CPAP therapy for obstructive sleep apnea patients. Appliances have been effective in the resolution of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and other sleep and breathing disorders in both children and adults. Sleep apnea is typically treated with a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure device or CPAP, which is thought to be the most effective treatment, though it is not a cure. 

However, patients frequently stop using the device after a short period of use, thus leaving themselves vulnerable to medical complications from OSA. Mostly because they are given a c-pap machine without addressing the underlying cause, treating the mouth breathing, or looking at expanding the airway.

Breathing life into your body with alternative treatments

Dental appliances may not be a suitable treatment for severe obstructive sleep apnea, but they have proved to be a practical option for painful surgery, drugs, and CPAP in the vast majority of cases. Oral appliance therapy has been very successful in treating snoring and sleep apnea

Seek medical attention if you have any of what I mentioned earlier. Work closely with professionals to determine what is your current condition. Is it your airway, bone structure, and teeth? Do you desire alternate therapy to breathe better?

Differing philosophies and practitioners of different modalities are coming together to create methods and protocols for better care solutions.

Drs Hindin and Gleb are excited about what the future will bring. We look forward to the day where an airway screening will be routine, and the standard of care; where there will be no “hidden airway” problems that go unrecognized and treated solely as something else like ADHD, chronic pain, or anxiety; where chronic disease sufferers with airway/sleep problems will be screened and have their airway component acknowledged and treated.

Health assessment, in this hygienist’s opinion, should start with the mouth, airway, and breathing. If we can’t breathe through our noses, we are already starting out challenged. Our mouth is the window into our bodies, and we take breathing for granted. Wearing masks for so long has made this issue even more apparent. 

Owning our health, starting with Oxygen, Water, Nutrition, and Sleep, are the four main concerns we should put at the top of our health to-do list. We only get one body. What we put in is what we get out. If we take the time to nurture it, we will not only live longer; we will live healthier. 

A healthy mouth is a healthy body and a happy, healthy life.