Dentistry focused on airway health resolves many conditions, from sleep apnea to asthma to overall well-being
Airway centered or airway focused dentistry
As humans have evolved and dietary changes have occurred, our airway has become smaller. This process has resulted in a health crisis. Our airways need room to function as intended. The healthy function involves breathing through the nose. Due to the changes mentioned, insufficient room is available for the airways to support consistent and optimal nose-breathing. Mouth-breathing and other dysfunctional behaviors contribute to a wide variety of common health issues. These issues affect our overall well-being and quality of life. They include:
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and sleep fragmentation including snoring
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- And numerous other life-altering conditions
A thought leader in the airway-centered dentistry movement, Dr. Mark Cruz co-founded the Airway Collaborative to educate other dentists and medical professionals on treatments that identify and resolve the root cause of disordered breathing. Traditionally, “treatments” have focused on resolving the signs and symptoms associated with mouth-breathing and other functional issues, such as snoring. At Mark A. Cruz, DDS, we deeply understand the relationship between breathing, sleep, and illness. We address the underlying causes of disordered breathing. So, we can truly treat the root causes and heal the patient. This approach promotes lasting, positive change and a lifetime of good health and wellness.
Services to effectively treat structural, behavioral, and functional problems
Clearly understanding the individual patient’s clinical situation facilitates which “tools” to recommend; each case has nuanced differences.
Structural or anatomical deficiencies can lead to the development of suboptimal behaviors or compensations. These deficiencies may include a constricted pharynx (throat) and deviated nasal septum. The airway’s physiology or function can also be threatened by allergies, frequent colds, or any condition that inflames the soft tissues within the throat. Air can’t move through this passageway freely and easily. Compensatory behaviors range from mouth-breathing and heavy or labored respiration to snoring and “noisy” breathing. Our practice’s range of airway centered services to address these anatomical, physiological, and habitual challenges include:
- Orthopedic Remodeling techniques
- Orthotropic techniques and therapies to encourage healthy facial and jaw growth; for instance, by using specialized oral appliances to promote healthy tongue posture and to prevent the blockage of the airway
- Advanced Lightwire Functionals (ALF), which is a category of oral appliances that gently realign the jaws, dental arches, and teeth without braces to resolve airway constriction, bruxism, Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction, and other consequences of impaired facial development
- Surgically facilitated clear aligner therapy
- Microscrew skeletal expansion
- Maxillo-Mandibular telescopic surgery
- Myofunctional therapies such as specialized exercises and Myobrace® appliances to improve the positioning of the tongue and to strengthen the facial muscles, so unhealthy patterns are corrected, and patients avoid the need for conventional orthodontic treatments later in life
These services support natural breathing and do so in a non-invasive, hassle-free, and low-risk way. Since our airways are associated with many essential functions needed to be healthy, happy, and “best,” many of our patients are thrilled by the range of surprising benefits. Patients can rest through the night and get quality, restorative sleep. By modifying anatomical distortions, they also notice considerable improvements in facial aesthetics and their profiles. All this leads to improvements in symptoms that at first blush may seem to have nothing to do with airway health – from chronic GI distress to impaired cognition and mood disturbances.