The American Dental Association has announced its support of Global Airway Health Day, an international day that promotes upper respiratory health. And there is a good reason for such action.

A.D.A. President Chad P. Gehani says that dentists are critically positioned to detect airway health issues as they spend more time than any medical professionals in patients’ mouths–an entrance to people’s airways.

A.D.A. President Chad P. Gehani speaks about Global Airway Health Day.

Genahi will be a guest speaker at a major webathon on Global Airway Health Day on Oct. 2. The “O2 Breathe-A-Thon” will feature medical experts, celebrities, performers, social media influencers, community activists, and patients from around the world during a 12-hour program. 

Many dental patients may not be aware of having breathing issues, according to Gehani. The dentist’s office is where they could find out for the first time, he says.

In recent years, the ADA has taken a leading role in helping identify airway-centered disorders, a often undiagnosed condition that can have drastically adverse health consequences to a person’s general health.

Dr. Howard Hindin

The airway-centered disorder, ACD, is a structural and physiological condition of the mouth, jaw, nasal passages, tongue, or throat that involves the obstruction of the upper airways, which can affect breathing 24 hours a day, including and especially during sleep, according to Dr. Howard Hindin, chairman of the Foundation for Airway Health. However, airway issues can go unnoticed by physicians unless they specifically look for them, Hindin says. Echoing the ADA president’s comments, Hindin adds that many patients are unaware they have a breathing problem and never bring it up to their doctors. “ACD is a ‘hidden’ airway problem,” states Hindin.

ACD can lead to increased risk for heart disease, high blood pressure, Alzheimer’s and cancer as well Covid-19, according to Hindin. ACD symptoms include speech problems, behavioral issues, asthma, deep overbite, depression, fatigue and restless sleep, among others.

With 163,000 members, the recent involvement of the American Dental Association in the detection of ACD may be a game changer. “Some populations are likely to be affected by Airway issues; however, airway-centered disorders are a critical issue for all America,” Gehani, the ADA president. “America’s dentists recognize the importance of screening for Airway Center Disorders.”

Sal Rodas

That has brought the American Dental Association and the Foundation for Airway Health close together with the common goal of helping people reach optimal health by addressing airway issues. In 2017 the ADA published the white paper “Dentistry’s Role in Sleep Related Breathing Disorders” and later formatted a task force to develop screening protocols to identify children with breathing disorders. 

“We are proud of the support and participation of the ADA in celebration of Global Airway Health Day,” says Sal Rodas, foundation executive director. “The American Dental Association has shown its commitment to help the dental community become more active in identifying, treating and managing patients with airway deficiencies.”

Adds Rodas, “We applaud the ADA’s support in driving initiatives to help address patients with Airway-Centered Disorders, especially in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.”