Greetings from North Carolina!
I attended the 2018 IAOM convention this weekend with my friend, Alyssa Stiles, from Pittsburgh Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy, LLC, https://www.pghomt.com, and it was well worth really long drive together. We have learned SO MUCH about sleep disordered breathing, ankyloglossia (tongue ties), postural issues, fascia, the airway, and new and upcoming research related to our field.
If there’s one thing that was really reinforced at this event, it’s that the tongue is connected to the rest of the body in ways we never knew or learned about in school. But, like one of the presenters said, “you don’t know, what you don’t know.”
We’ve always said that, as dental professionals, we don’t understand why medicine and dentistry are treated as two entirely different things. Without a mouth, we cannot properly eat, sleep, drink, or speak. The mouth is an important part of the head, which is connected to the rest of the body by a neck. The neck encompasses the airway, which many of us take for granted. Like Nicole Archambault Besson mentioned this afternoon, it’s one of the first things checked when a baby is born (as in APGAR score), and it’s one of the last things that is assessed as you age. It’s something the dental field needs to become more vigilant about, especially since risk factors for airway function disorders can be identified as early as day one. When airway function disorders are identified earlier, life-long challenges can be averted, such as sleep disordered breathing, ADHD, bedwetting, learning disabilities, reading comprehension issues, feeding difficulties, speech sound disorders, TMJD, orthodontic relapse, etc.
What we were taught in school is to throughly check the tongue when performing oral cancer screenings to assess for possible pathology (ex leukoplakic and erythematic lesions), “normal abnormalities” (ex tongue ties, tongue scalloping, etc), and normal tissue. But we didn’t know what we didn’t know at the time. The research is showing that these “normal abnormalities” are actually signs of a problem, like airway dysfunction.
So here’s a special thanks to all of the presenters this weekend, and thanks to everyone who coordinated this event. We’re hoping that we can share this information we learned with other providers to teach them to NOT look past the tongue.
We understand that it takes an interdisciplinary team to best treat our patients, and our goal is to be part of a team, providing evidence-based care to promote health through proper oral rest posture, breathing, and chewing and swallowing mechanics for a lifetime.