Pioneering Prevention Providers Part 2

Barbara Tritz
· March 4, 2019 ·

8 minutes

Prevention is Key to a Long Healthy Life

Here’s part two of my notes from the Airway Conference I attended in November. Part one talked about “brain hygiene”. Now we’re going to talk about sleep hygiene, tongue health hygiene, and heart hygiene! So much hygiene! So many important ways to maintain and prevent disease that need to be on your radar. It’s such fun to be surrounded by people that are into “hygiene” in all its many forms. AND! funny enough, your dental hygienist is the premier hygienist that coordinates all these various “hygiene’s” into a healthier you! It starts at your mouth. Prevention! Imagine that! 😉

Breathe, Baby, Breathe

Our next speaker was Dr. Steven Carstensen, a pioneer in sleep medicine dentistry. Dr. Carstensen spoke about sleep disordered breathing. Lack of oxygen during sleep contributes to heart disease, chronic pain, temporal-mandibular joint disorders (jaw joint pain), migraines, depression, irritable bowel syndrome, and upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS).

During sleep disordered breathing, UARS causes a part of the airway to narrow, making breathing harder. This sensitizes the limbic system which then disrupts the circadian rhythm. Sleep cycles are disrupted. Lack of proper and deep sleep contributes to a jumbled brain. When we don’t get that deep sleep, we don’t release human growth hormone which helps us heal. By not going through all the sleep cycles, we don’t dream. Dreaming helps us take memories from short term storage and putting them in long term storage (cognitive decline). We need sound sleep every single night. Proper breathing is the foundation for healthy sleep. The main blocker of the airway is the mighty tongue, which leads us to the next speaker:

Untie The Tongue/Open the Airway

Tongue Tied Trouble
Tethered Tongue Creates Oral Havoc!

Dr. Soroush Zaghi is another hero of mine. He is working to expand our knowledge of all things relating to the tongue and airways,and is an ENT in Los Angeles. Dr. Zaghi discussed the tongue and it’s proper place in the mouth. The tissue under the tongue is called the frenum. Three percent of babies born have a shortened frenum. That means their tongue is tied or tethered to the floor of the mouth. When the tongue is down, the jaw’s growth is stunted. Lips can also be tethered by frenums that are called lip ties and the jaw can be anchored to the gums through buccal ties. Crooked teeth, underdeveloped facial bones, jaw joint pain and sleep disordered breathing can result.

Dr. Zaghi pioneered a more consistent tongue, lip and buccal release therapy. People have lived with these tethered tissues but what Dr. Zaghi confirmed is that folks compensate for the tight tissues. Rather than move just their tongue to move food and swallow, instead they also use the floor of their mouth, neck and shoulders to overcome these restricted tissues. Jaw joint pain indicates a possible compensation as well. That little tissue can be the source of neck, back and shoulder pains, and nobody ever thinks to connect it to what’s happening under the tongue. Or if they do, they really don’t know what they are looking at or for. Sadly, so many doctors do not understand the significance of the frenum ties.

The tongue belongs on the roof of the mouth, and lips should be sealed when not engaged in eating, talking or otherwise communicating. The head should be positioned over the shoulders. Simple but important points to ensure proper oxygen intake, and good sleep as well as proper facial development. Dr. Zaghi has pioneered tongue release therapies and teaches his unique techniques to doctors from all over the country. Love a man with passion!

He works closely with his Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist, Sanda Pinkerton as well as a whole team of highly trained professionals. Sanda spoke at the conference as well, and reinforced the importance of pre-therapy to make the tongue strong and ready for a release. This is vital for a successful release. She discussed the need to address buccal ties as they prevent the jaw from growing properly. Post surgery therapy is also essential to continue retraining the tongue and muscles to swallow, breath and position properly. The goal is optimizing muscle function, meaning nasal breathing, proper tongue rest posture, and lip seal. Breathe baby breathe.

Heart Health Help

Drs Brad Bale and Amy Doneen are truly the pioneers of heart health. How lucky I am to hear them again speak. Heart attacks are the #1 cause of death in both men AND women!! and strokes are the #1 cause of disability. Their book: Beat the Heart Attack Gene should be required reading for every adult who wants to be healthy (IMHO). Most heart attacks are NOT caused by cholesterol build up but rather inflammation in the arteries. Drs. Bale and Doneen are huge supporters of dental hygienists and the importance of gum disease prevention therapies. Let’s live in the health zone not the disease zone!

Note the link between perio and atherosclerosis

Gum infections are a cause of inflammation in the body and are often the source of bacteria in the arterial plaque that gets trapped in the wall of the artery. The bacteria called porphyromonas gingivalis and its buddy spirochetes have a direct toxic effect on the health of the arteries. These bacteria cause the arteries to be inflamed and increase the likelihood of a cardiovascular event. (Root canals also infect the body with pathogens but, unfortunately, the American Dental Association won’t admit that…) Love these people, they are singing my song! It all circles around to oral health and wellness, and testing the pathogens. Hope you love your dental hygienists, they are saving your life! Be sure they test, treat and retest until the pathogens are gone.

Another strongly worded topic for the Bale/Doneen talk as well as the next pioneer, Dr. Jerry Simmons was airway health. Airway issues start early/young. Be aware of daytime sleepiness and nighttime snoring. Snoring puts negative pressures on the back of the throat. Snoring is the beginning. Children SHOULD NOT SNORE< EVER. This I hadn’t thought about, but! when snorers STOP snoring, that does not mean the patient is cured, it really means there is complete collapse of the airway.

There are apps you can download to your phone that will review how well you and/or your kiddos are sleeping. Great health starts with great sleep.

More Pioneering Prevention Tidbits:

Many other speakers such as Jennifer Tow, Joy Moeller, andMichelle Emanuelle, had equally important facts to share:

Crying it out” is TOXIC for infants. It releases cortisol and is NOT good for baby. Pick them up and console them. There is a reason why they cry and they need you!

Chronic fatigue syndrome = upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS)

Nocturnal acid reflux or GERD means there is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Waking up with nasal congestion? That’s another sign of OSA.

Grinding/bruxing and clenching are signs of airway issues and the way your body protects your airway. (Your biteguard is only a band-aid and may be actually making your OSA even worse. Suggest you get a sleep study if you wear a bite guard.)

Toxins in our environment and mouth are mercury, lead and glyphosate (what is in Round Up weed killer). Glyphosate makes mercury and aluminium more toxic. Autism may be connected to aluminium, mercury and acetaminophen exposure.
There is a huge uptick in autism. Mercury and lead cross the placenta… We are poisoning our children.

The greatest hidden danger of all may be from root canals and in the incomplete healing in the holes left behind after tooth extractions. These holes are called cavitations and they are filled with bacteria and other pathogens. They rear their head 20 to 25 years later some place else in the body so the correlation is never made to connect the two. Dentistry is keeping its collective head in the sand and ignoring these pockets of pathogens. Until such time as we have more research on this, I would hope dentists would at least keep an open mind. I listen as patients tell me how much better they feel after removing infected teeth and bone. Anecdotal, I realize, but there is something there to think about.

Jaw joint pain improves with the use of a C-pap machine.


Have you had a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty? If so, you still need to address the cause of the problem, which happens to be at the base of the tongue.  Which was the original cause of the problem. Get thee to an orofacial myofunctional therapist and retrain thy tongue to be strong and sit on the roof of thy mouth, where it belongeth.

Puttin’ it into Operation: Pioneering Prevention Hygiene

Your dental hygienist is the keystone to your health! He or she is the best prevention specialist to help monitor your sleep, your heart, your brain and your body. It is all connected to your mouth, your airway and your diet. Little did I realize, when I decided to be a dental hygienist I would be picking such an incredible career! I wanted to be in the healthcare field, making a difference as a healer and now, 39 years later, it’s all come together! So the next time you see your dental hygienist, be aware they are doing so very much more than just picking and scraping your teeth.

Here’s what I do during a regular 60 minute appointment:

  • Review and update medical history
  • Take blood pressure
  • Take pulse oximetry (blood oxygen level)
  • Take any necessary radiographs /periodontal charting
  • Oral cancer screening
  • Evaluate your airway, and tongue rest posture
  • Take a plaque sample for a microscope slide to analyze your bacterial biofilm content (see spirochetes above)
  • Do a tooth decay swab for decay bacterial load levels (I do a lot of testing! Ya don’t know what ya got unless ya test!)
  • Then, finally, I pick up my instruments and polish first to remove the plaque
  • Then ultrasonically clean your teeth with my ozonated water and power tools
  • And, one more time around with my hand instruments to remove any final bits of tartar and also to feel each and every tooth surface hunting for tooth decay
  • Floss
  • Tongue cleaning
  • Review the results of the microscope findings,
  • Last but not least, oral hygiene instructions to help you have a healthy mouth, review diet, supplement recommendations, and suggest books, and other tools to help you be your healthiest best self ( it’s not ALL about floss)
  • Then on top of all that, a dental examination by the dentist.

It’s a very busy hour. But every single minute is spent evaluating your oral health and wellness, as well as your airway, sleep and facial growth. Things that go through my head as I look at you and in your mouth: Is your jaw properly developed? Why are your teeth crooked? Is your tongue in the proper place? Do you swallow correctly? Are your teeth chewing your food correctly? Why is there jaw pain? Why did you break that tooth? Are you breathing correctly? Is there mouth breathing, dry mouth, tooth decay or gum infections? How can I best help you be healthy? and so much more…

Good Friends meeting at conference

Learning at the AAPMD Airway Conference with my friend, Victoria.

(Having fun too!)

All the things I learn at these seminars and conferences flood my brain as I work with each and every patient.

Your dental hygienist is possibly your best super hero, combining brain hygiene, sleep hygiene, airway hygiene, heart hygiene and of course oral hygiene all in one place! Total body health starts in the dental hygiene chair. How lucky I am to be a dental hygienist!

Next blog post will be all about the pioneering things we do at Green City Dental to help our clients maintain their total body health. We don’t just go to continuing education courses and then return to our old ways, but instead, on the very next work day immediately incorporate our new found knowledge into our protocols! I love working with the team at GCD!!

Til next Time,


Your brain hygiene, sleep hygiene, heart hygiene, airway hygiene, oral hygiene and super hero oral health coach!

Hello, I'm Barbara Tritz

Unveiling the Stories Behind Dental Hygiene

Loving science, especially biology, from an early age, Barbara is a registered dental hygienist, certified biological hygienist, and orofacial myofunctional therapist. In 2019, she received the Hu-Friedy/ADHA Master Clinician Award from the American Dental Hygienist Association.

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