Sleep Apnea Dentist, Arthur M. Strauss, DDS Retired
Special Interest in
the Dental Management of Snoring,
Obstructive Sleep Apnea and
Awake Related Oral Function Issues

Arthur M. Strauss, DDS Retired
Diplomate, American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine *


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Articles - Your Health Magazine, July 2009

Vital Aliveness:The Relationship Of Ease Of Breathing To Pain, Healing and Vital Aliveness

In considering the topic of interest for this month, “pain”, “management”, and “rehabilitation,” I felt uneasy. In considering that this uneasy feeling is an adrenaline response from a distraction, I concluded that the title was indeed a distraction to me, so I looked up “pain management” and “rehabilitation” in Wikipedia.

I found the medical model defining pain as “the physical sensation of discomfort or distress caused by injury or illness”, assumes that there is a cause recognizable in biology for every pain – which is an effect. Modern theories of pain control and those of Chinese medicine challenge this. In conclusion, it was noted that pain is ultimately a perception, and not an objective state of a body.

The definitions of manage that came closest to this context of management were manage as “to be in charge of, act on, or dispose of”; and “to come to terms or deal successfully with.”

The general definition of rehabilitation as a noun was “the restoration of someone to a useful place in society.” The specific definition for medicine was: “Instruction of incapacitated individuals or of those affected with some mental disorder, so that some or all of their lost ability may be regained.”

This involves (1) Combined and coordinated use of medical, social, educational and vocational measures for training or retraining the individual to the highest possible level of functional ability and (2) Action to replace a person on the labor market who had suffered harm because of occupational disease or accident, irrespective of whether their work capacity is temporarily reduced or they are permanently disabled.

Now I could see the source of my distraction – the definition did not mention “vital aliveness”, which, for me, is a life worth living. To me, the absence of vital aliveness is “coping.”

If you have read my prior articles you know that I believe that, because of the lack of physical natural selection as a species, the jaw, mouth, tongue relationship is one where oral function, primarily in ease of swallowing, speaking and breathing is impaired.

Because the body functions according to the priority stressed in cardio-pulmonary-resuscitation (CPR), it must constantly address the mouth-jaw-tongue impairment of the airway, most obvious, but not in any way limited to individuals with sleep apnea symptoms.

The need for the body to compensate by being in a “fight or flight” state, a state of forward head posture or some variation of that and/or of clenching or grinding ones teeth may allow pain management and rehabilitation as defined and described in Wikipedia: it will not allow the experience of vital aliveness.

Moving from a state of impaired oral function to one of ease of breathing without compensations is indeed what I refer to as a state of “peace” and “vital aliveness” – one of “healing” and “health.”

This concept of “oral systemic balance” was developed by Farrand C. Robson, DDS.

* Denotes a board certified Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM). The board is self designated and does not confer recognized specialty status by any certifying organization. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) recognizes the Diplomate status granted by the ABDSM. All Diplomate applicants must hold (at a minimum) a dental degree (D.D.S. or D.M.D.) or its equivalent and an active unrestricted license to practice dentistry in addition to completing an extensive application process, including presenting case studies and taking a written exam.

Arthur M. Strauss, DDS Retired