North American Association for Facial Orthotropics (NAAFO)

Scotts Valley and Santa Cruz, CA

We recently attended the inaugural conference of the North American Association for Facial Orthotropics (NAAFO) held in Chicago.  We always hope to come away with interesting and pertinent information that can make a positive difference in our lives and those we serve.  For me, it came through not only the lecture material that was presented by various experts in the health professions, but also my conversations and interactions with many of the attendees.  It is apparent that we are at the tipping point of the vital necessity for medicine and dentistry to be aligned and integrated when it comes to their respective roles in increasing the awareness , diagnosis, and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Here are just some of the highlights from the meeting: The old saying that an “ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure ” is certainly true in matters relating to sleep apnea.  One major risk factor is jaws that are set too far back in the face, known as “retruded,” giving the appearance of a weak chin or sometimes an elongated face.  This may be common knowledge to practitioners who treat sleep apnea, but what is not so evident is the cause of this facial form.  According to Dr John Mew, one of the lecturers and leading educators at the meeting, the major cause of poorly developed jaws is poor oral posture.  When we begin to consider the role of physical forces placed on cranial muscles, bone, and joints we can clearly see that long term sustained forces, i.e posture, can have a real impact on the development of our jaws. In a future post I will present the principle of ideal oral posture, but when it comes to jaw development it starts very early in life with proper breast feeding of the baby.  For additional information on the topic of proper feeding please refer to Dr Ariana Ebrahimian’s web series “The Healthy Child Show.”

Another bit of good news is the formation of an organization of both dentists and physicians known as the American Academy of Physiologic Medicine and Dentistry (AAPMD).  This corroboration will be instrumental in enhancing effective communication and treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. For those interested in learning more, their next meeting is being held in Oakland, California on June 15- 16, 2013.

In Health,
Dr. Max