How is our smile connected to our airway?

When the jaw develops properly, the teeth have room to fall into place and create a nice smile with a healthy bite relationship.  The jaw has the opportunity to develop well with proper breathing habits.  A healthy airway starts with nasal breathing.  This is accomplished with lips sealed and our tongues resting on the roof of our mouth.  One of these habits could be compromised by a functional limitation due to anatomy. While catching these early is ideal, there are solutions available regardless of age to increase the quality of life through a better airway. 


Airway Anatomy and Sleep Breathing

Quality sleep breathing is essential for proper growth and development as well as overall systemic health.  If airway health is compromised, the quantity and quality of deep sleep is affected.  Deep sleep is where the brain detoxes and the body repairs tissues, builds bone & muscle and the immune system is strengthened.  


The Benefits of Nasal Breathing

The nose has many functions that contribute to the quality of oxygen that we breathe.  It is the first line of defense against sickness by filtering allergens, bacteria and toxins.  The nose also secretes nitric oxide which has a host of beneficial actions including increasing blood flow and lung volume.  


How can an airway focused dentist help?

An airway focused dentist can assess the airway and help to determine if there are deficiencies in growth or airflow.  The dentist evaluates facial structures and symmetry, arch development, the soft tissues (including lips, tongue & throat), as well as the dentition.  If discrepancies are noted, the dentist can help to  guide a patient through the appropriate treatment. In children, growth can be influenced through early intervention.  Adults have many options as well when it comes to improving the airway.  The goal is for health and wellness through optimal breathing and sleep. 

2017 ADA Policy Statement Excerpts

Dentists can and do play an essential role in the multidisciplinary care of patients with certain sleep related breathing disorders and are well positioned to identify patients at greater risk of SRBD.  

In children, screening through history and clinical examination may identify signs and symptoms of deficient growth and development, or other risk factors that may lead to airway issues. 

For the full policy please visit

Airway Evaluation, Tongue/Lip Tie Consultations

Dr. Laura Lukin provides airway consultations from a dental perspective and laser functional releases for tongue and lip restrictions.