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32241 Crown Valley Parkway #200
Dana Point, CA 92629 | Directions

Enlightening presentation explains the connection between speech and sleep apnea


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man suffering from sleep apnea
Airway Focused Dentistry Mini-Residency, a course co-developed by Dr. Mark A Cruz of Dana Point, covers topics about sleep and breathing disorders. During the session, Steven Y. Park, MD discussed evolutionary and lifestyle factors influencing the high rates of apnea in modern society.

The development of speech and the airway

Dr. Park referenced a scientific paper entitled, The great leap forward: the anatomic basis for the acquisition of speech and apnea, explaining the uniquely human factors in apnea.
  • Although most animals make some sounds, the ability to develop complex speech is unique to humans.
  • With few exceptions, humans are the only species with sleep disordered breathing problems, and usually the only species to choke frequently
  • Scientists and analysts have said evolutionary changes that enabled speech were harmful to the airway
  • The shape of a human skull, compared to that of a chimpanzee or other primate, reveals differences that accommodate a larger brain and more developed vocal abilities. The mid-face tips forward, and the airway is at a much sharper angle.
  • Laryngeal Descent, which refers to the lowering of the Larynx, is said to be complete by age six. However, research has shown that it continues dropping slightly with the aging process.

Dietary considerations

When we think of health concerns with modern diets, we tend to focus on nutritional value. However, research has shown that the texture and consistency of food may be equally important. Raw and minimally processed foods are more difficult to chew, and this effort is an important part of facial development. Research has found orthodontic problems very uncommon in indigenous populations eating native foods. Follow-up studies have found narrowing jaws, crowded teeth, misalignment, and other problems developing as native communities adopted western diets.

Dr. Cruz, Dr. Park, and other presenters are working to educate patients and fellow medical professionals.

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