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Breathe Well, Sleep Well, Feel Well

Apr 29, 2022 06:35AM ● By Ingo Mahn

The consequences of elevated cortisol levels.

From the moment we take our first breath, our mouth is instrumental in providing us with the nutrients required to survive and thrive. You are not only what you eat, but how you eat, sleep and breathe.
There are a number of conditions in your mouth that, if undiagnosed, can adversely affect both your health and well-being. In the past, holistic dentists have generally focused on problems such as mercury-releasing amalgam fillings and infected/toxic root canals. There is, however, an overlooked condition known as sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) that is at the root cause of many common health problems, such as:
·       High blood pressure
·       Chronic fatigue and brain fog
·       Unexplained weight gain
·       Susceptibility to colds, flus and infections
·       Anxiety and/or depression
·       Aches and pains in the jaw, neck and back
This relatively unknown condition is estimated to affect almost 50 percent of American adults, and can range from a mild version known as upper airway resistance syndrome to full-blown sleep apnea.
In many cases, there is not enough room for the tongue (due to an underdeveloped upper jaw), and as a result, it is forced back into the airway. Imagine being suffocated by your own tongue—your body literally fighting to stay alive! Sleeping should be a time of healing and regenerating, instead your body is in a state of “fight or flight.” Cortisol levels rise; you wake up tired; gain unhealthy weight; and suffer from systemic inflammation, lower immunity and poor sleep.
Signs that you may be affected by SDB include snoring, clenching/grinding your teeth, painful jaw joints, and waking up tired.

3D CT imaging of a compromised airway.

Problems of the airway tend to fall into a sort of medical “no man’s” land. Few dentists or doctors are adequately trained to diagnose or treat this condition. Fortunately, medical and dental professionals are now becoming much more aware of this all-too-common issue.

This is especially true in dentistry. Many signs and symptoms are first seen in the oral cavity, and many dentists have advanced imaging that allows for visualization of the airway in 3D.

A jaw-expanding appliance.

Unfortunately though, most current therapies, such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) or dental appliances that pull the lower jaw forward, only offer a Band-Aid solution. The good news? There is an alternative treatment that addresses the root cause of the problem. Wearing a retainer-like epigenetic appliance (which has the ability to stimulate stem cells and bone growth) for eight hours at night can actually expand the upper jaw. As a result, there is more room for the tongue and more room for air to flow freely.

Often, underlying conditions may also be contributing to a restricted airway. In those cases, other practitioners, such as myofunctional therapists; chiropractors; allergists; or ear, nose and throat specialists, are needed in order to achieve optimal health.
Imagine waking up refreshed and having enough energy to tackle the day ahead. Your best assurance to feeling well is to make sure your airway is structurally fit to support your whole body health.
Dr. Ingo Mahn is a 1985 graduate of Marquette University School of Dentistry and has a doctorate in integrative medicine. He is the founder of Natural Dental Partners, in Phoenix, and the author of A Breath of Health, which can be downloaded for free at For more information or to make an appointment, call 602-922-7852 or visit