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Functional Dental and Airway Medicine
For the integrated treatment of snoring, sleep apnoea, UARS, TMJ and many other chronic illnesses
Let’s put things into context…
T he meaning of life is a question that all of us will ask at some stage. And whilst philosophy has provided many answers to that question, there is one simple, unquestionable truth that underpins life:
My name is Dr Jalal and I’d like to welcome you to Sydney Airway Clinic.
So why have I, a dentist, created an airway clinic?
Well, dentists manage the structure which is the gateway to the human body: the mouth. The mouth also forms a very important part of the upper airway. If the mouth’s development and structure is inadequate, it compromises one’s ability to breathe functionally. This has far-reaching implications on systemic health.
You may wonder if underdeveloped jaws could be relevant to you? It’s probably rare right?
Well we are currently living through a small-jaw epidemic. Just look around at how many people have crooked teeth. Or, if they have straight teeth now, how many needed braces to straighten their crooked teeth?
Here comes the important part:
Crowded teeth are really a symptom of a much more serious underlying condition: underdeveloped jaws. The jaws don’t grow sufficiently forwards, out of the cranium. Their stunted growth results in the jaws being stuck further back in the skull then what is ideal. This compromises the structure that sits right behind the jaws: the airway. With the airway structure now compromised, breathing becomes dysfunctional. This translates into poor breathing whilst sleeping, poor sleep quality and breathing disordered sleep conditions such as snoring, sleep apnoea and UARS. The flow on effect of poor sleep quality is seriously debilitating to our health.
Dr Steven Park, an ENT Physician, remarks in the preface to his widely respected book “Sleep Interrupted“, that “breathing is the most fundamental physiologic activity that we all must do to survive.”
From this information, it follows that the mouth has a critical role in this most fundamental physiologic activity. As dentists must pay attention and take this seriously. We mustn’t simplify our clinical practice to just teeth and gums. We must focus on creating a functional mouth for our patients; an oral environment that is supportive of your systemic health.
My personal journey
In the mouth, one of the most common findings I encounter on a daily basis is crowded teeth. And whilst I’ve learnt how to correct misaligned teeth, I had never asked a very important question…
Why are teeth crowded in the first place?
I wanted to help my patients with more than just their basic dental needs. However I lacked the knowledge or the tools. I was treating the dental signs and symptoms but not looking for the root cause.
In addition to dental crowding, what I also saw regularly in my patients was a high prevalence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and autoimmune diseases.
Could there be a link?
The mouth-body connection is a term that gets used regularly but I didn’t understand just how important the mouth was in general health. And I wasn’t appreciating how presentations in the mouth were a reflection of greater systemic illnesses.
It didn’t sit right for me. I had to dig deeper to find the truth.
So I began digging. And what I found was truly remarkable.
I learnt that crowded teeth was actually a sign of underdeveloped jaws. The jaws weren’t big enough to accommodate the teeth, hence the crowding. Infact, modern society has an epidemic of small, underdeveloped jaws.
The underdeveloped jaws were compromising the airways of the patients I was seeing. The airway compensation was connected to so many conditions such as:
These signs and symptoms point to compromised structure and function.
Epigenetic influences outlined here cause structural deficiencies that result in a parafunction. When repeated, this parafunction becomes a dysfunction.
Think of a sprained ankle. We limp and place heavier weight on the other leg to help us walk. This is a parafunction which will reverse once the ankle heals. If the ankle does not heal correctly, then the limp will become permanent and the parafunction will cause chronic damage to our otherwise healthy leg, resulting in a dysfunction.
Parafunctions are learned behaviours and compensations to help us continue on in life. They can be behavioural, nutritional and emotional. Repeated parafunctions result in a long, drawn out failure of the body’s system.
I now understand the exact neurological and functional explanations of the mouth-body connection. A little known fact is that 30-40% of the brain is dedicated to sensory and motor supply of the mouth. Purely on a neurological level, the mouth is supremely important in general health.
So to branch away from just treating the signs and symptoms, I’ve spent time understanding WHY dental crowding is so common. It’s led me down the road of:
With my newfound knowledge, I’ve gathered a team of clinicians in multiple disciplines that work together collectively to help you live longer and live healthier. It’s an integrated approach to functional dental and airway medicine.
Dr Mark Hyman, the world’s pre-eminent Functional Medicine doctor says that
“Medicine is the science of disease, whereas functional medicine is the science of health.”
It’s been liberating for me to find so many answers. Yet with more knowledge, comes more questions. My learning will never stop.
I can’t wait to help my patients breathe better, sleep well, restore balance and live longer, healthier lives.