Dr Felix Liao: The Airway Mouth Doctor

Dr Felix Liao has thirty-plus years as a holistic/biological family dentist and a thought-leading bestselling author in dental contributions to medical symptoms and natural wellness. He is the author of three highly regarded books on mouth/body health – books he recommends that all new and prospective patients read: Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage; Early Sirens; and Licensed to Thrive.

Dr Felix Liao: The Airway Mouth Doctor Introduction

Well, today, we are exploring what it means to be an airway mouth doctor. Interesting, isn’t it? I describe myself as a holistic dentist for over 40 years. But today I… Look, I’m always learning new stuff. And this is what I love about doing this. I get to meet people like my guest today, Dr. Felix Liao. Now, Felix is a holistic family dentist in Virginia in, USA. 

Or rather, as I said, describes himself as an airway mouth doctor. I just love that expression and borrow it from now on and give Felix full credit for it. Felix coined the term ‘Impaired Mouth Syndrome’ to describe a mouth unable to support whole health and explores how the mouth is all too often an overlooked source of many dental and medical troubles. 

He shared his oral and systemic health insights in three books thus far. The first Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage. He’s talking about the tongue. We go into it. Early Sirens. Yes. Some early signs that we can all be alert to and the very positive licence to thrive. In fact, he’s just published two new books, Your Child’s Best Face. And for those of us who aren’t children, a book called Relaunch Your Vitality. We discuss them all in this wonderful conversation. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Dr. Felix Liao.

Podcast Transcript

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Unstress. My name is Dr Ron Ehrlich. I’d like to acknowledge the traditional custodians of the land on which I’m recording this podcast, the Gadigal People of the Eora Nation, and pay my respects to their Elders – past, present, and emerging. 

Dr. Ron Ehrlich: [00:00:21] Well, today we are exploring what it means to be an airway mouth doctor. Interesting, isn’t it? I describe myself as a holistic dentist for over 40 years. But today I… Look, I’m always learning new stuff. And this is what I love about doing this. I get to meet people like my guest today, Dr. Felix Liao. Now, Felix is a holistic family dentist in Virginia in the USA. 

Or rather, as I said, describes himself as an airway mouth doctor. I just love that expression and borrow it from now on and give Felix full credit for it. Felix coined the term ‘Impaired Mouth Syndrome’ to describe a mouth unable to support whole health and explores how the mouth is all too often an overlooked source of many dental and medical troubles.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:01:12] He shared his oral and systemic health insights in three books thus far. The first Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage. He’s talking about the tongue. We go into it. Early Sirens. Yes. Some early signs that we can all be alert to and the very positive licence to thrive. In fact, he’s just published two new books, Your Child’s Best Face. And for those of us who aren’t children, a book called Relaunch Your Vitality. We discuss them all in this wonderful conversation. I hope you enjoy this conversation I had with Dr. Felix Liao. Welcome to the show, Felix.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:01:53] Very glad to join you, Dr. Ron. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:01:56] Oh, well, Felix, you know, to meet another holistic dentist. Wow. You know, we are a rare but growing breed, I think. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:02:06] I totally agree because people are coming to their senses that, in fact, the hip bones are connected to thigh bones, and our teeth are part of the whole ocean. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:02:18] Well, listen, you know, there was a moment in human history when an apple fell on Newton’s head, and it led to the discovery of gravitational force, which had a significant impact on our understanding of the world. Well, what was your big Newton’s apple? What was your big Aha!?

Dr Felix Liao: [00:02:37] So I thank you for asking that question. I got to dental school as an engineer. I had come from Taiwan five years earlier, and I had a walk around campus in college with a dictionary under my arm. So I couldn’t read fast enough. I could do the maths and solve applied physics problem. 

So somehow, I got my way passed through Brown University Engineering School and I got to Stanford School. I said, “You know, this thing doesn’t make sense, right? There is a head-scratcher. Teeth are the hardest tissue in the body. And why would the body destroy it and mutilate it?” Supposedly you do it to yourself, not somebody forcing it on you. Right. 

So that’s even more puzzling. Well, I saw how prevalent it was, and I saw how many problems came from that. And, you know, it’s just kind of nagged at me. And it nudged me to take in all kinds of courses inside and then outside Dentistry. Nothing by any sense until sleep medicine and maturation of Cone Beam CT.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:03:57] Yeah, the 3D x-ray. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:03:59] Yeah, 3D x-ray. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:04:00] 3D x-ray has been a total revelation. Total revelation.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:04:04] Yeah. And the last piece of the puzzle was sleep medicine research. I read a research article that says EEG, the electrical signals to the brain shut up 3 to 4 seconds before the onset of bruxism. So there’s a big spike of signals into the brain. Four seconds before. And then the hard way went up 10 seconds after the bruxing. So then the lightbulb went off and I said, “Ahh. Okay. So this is self-administered CPR.” All right.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:04:47] Self administered CPR.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:04:49] All right. So you’ve choked your airway because you fell asleep. Everything goes slack, and the tongue fell into the throat and plugged it. So that’s when the body goes, “Code blue! Rescue me! I am turning blue from not having oxygen!” So it tells the brain to do something, and the body says, “Well, geez, what can I do?” 

And so it turns out that if you brux your teeth, you bring your front teeth edge to edge and rub them side to side. Guess what? You advance the lower jaw, and you pull the tongue out of the throat, which is a prerequisite for doing CPR. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:05:34] Yeah, it’s interesting, Felix, because your point about teeth, you know, I mean, these are when they dig up skeletons that are millions of years old, it’s the teeth that are still intact. And yet we have, you and I and every dentist, have observed how patients self-destruct those teeth and bruxism or tooth grinding. 

Is that mechanism? It’s interesting how this has changed, though, hasn’t it? Because when I was starting my career, bruxism was seen as a stress-related problem, whatever that meant. Stress-related problem.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:06:11] It turns out it is stress, but just not the kind of stress that we thought it was. Right. It’s this.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:06:16] Yes, exactly. Yes. Yeah. Interesting. So go on. Yes. So tell me. Yeah.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:06:22] So. Yeah, it became, you know, not clear. But once we got a couple dots on the uncharted water, that says this may not be just a purely big problem. It’s not purely a tooth problem or a dental problem. Now, we does have to look outside dentistry to find the answer to this. Right. 

Because we all know how big this problem is in terms of how it fails that general dentist chair size schedule. Right. I mean, Asian breaks teeth, they complain about sensitivity. They complain about failed root canals and failed implants, and cracked teeth, and you name it, aches and pains. All right.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:07:09] Yep.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:07:10] “Oh, Doc, my temporary came off again.” We hear that all the time, right? Well, we have to find a root cause. And the root cause often is that these are dental behaviours through no willingness of the patients on choosing is simply a knee-jerk reaction in the interest of survival that is open up that damn airway. You can’t live with that.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:07:41] Yeah. Yeah. I mean, you talk about impaired mouth syndrome. Impaired mouth syndrome. I wondered if you might just tell us what that is. What? What does that mean?

Dr Felix Liao: [00:07:55] Yeah. So it turns out that when a mother’s structurally impaired, there’s a whole set of consequences that happens. It’s not universal, but it’s very common from patient to patient. So we have to pull back a little bit and think about, number one, what does a mouth do? And number two, what does it take to get the mouth to do all that it’s supposed to do? So let’s take a generic mouth. 

So a generic mouth is a new baby who was born. Right. What’s a baby’s mouth? It’s got two gum parts inside, a pair of lips. I said a cheeks with a tongue in between. That’s a generic one. You know, I’m always really grateful to Dr Dave Singh, whom I know you interview on this podcast before. And he’s that true, you know, inspiration to me to this day. And he talked about functional space. All right. And I was a huge lightbulb that just kind of. 

Well, it’s a beacon, really, not a light bulb. Right. And so it serve as a North Star in this uncharted waters. In my early going and this functional space in a generic mouth is really occupied by the tongue on the inside and lips on the outside, and the cheeks with a pair of gum parts in between. All right. It’s called early undeveloped maxilla and mandible. And in there are 52 toothbuds.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:09:44] 32. That’s a very magical number for dentists and should be for everybody. 32 is a very magical number. 32.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:09:54] Yep, yep, yep. Okay, so this functional space is enough to grow every one of us from a newborn to now. All right. That is… what happens to a baby after it’s fed and falls asleep. And they wake up, it’s hungry again. You feed, and you sleep and repeat the cycle. And that’s how we grow. All right. So the mounths is to humans, what roots are to plants, and the mouth mediates both respiration. 

As we can tell, it’s involved in sleep apnoea and eating and drinking. All right. Also, which serves that one purpose, that purpose is energy. It provides a source of energy to the body. And energy is the difference between a warm body and a cold body. Meaning life and death. And, by extension, wellness or illness. All right. So the mouth actually is to humans, where what roots are to plants? And when the mouth as a foundation is off, now you have a real problem. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:11:18] So let’s talk about what makes a mouth go off. So very common, we recognise the mouth is off when teeth become very crowded. Right. I mean, that’s how we typically associated with that. But long before that, it turns out that there are a lot of evidence at the crime scene that we can pick up if we grow new eyes to see. 

Okay, like what they do in CSI (Crime Scene Investigation). In my book, I call it ChairSide Investigation. Right. Same acronym. Yeah, we put it on our Sherlock Holmes hat. And we are connecting the dots and using our observation, connecting the pieces of evidence to try to tell back a story that is plausible. Right. So it turns out that the culprit always is the structurally impaired mouth.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:12:18] So structurally impaired mouth in early childhood would be our tongue tie. So, you know, a baby who could not breastfeed because of the tongue tie, it would fall off the breast because the tongue just get tired from not being able to do its job. So it would drive the mother crazy because the baby would be crying all night every night until the problem is solved. 

The other one will be stuffy nose, and that results in habitual mouth breathing and chapped lips and lip incompetence. So when you breathe with your mouth open because of a stuffy nose, that again is the result of eating the stuff, wrong stuff. The wrong eating style. Right. That causes gut inflammation. And the gut inflammation spreads to the… 

Translates into a stuffy nose. So kids with stuffy nose, they are just going to have more consolidated sinusitis, ear infections, antibiotics, and they’ll just further aggravate. So once you have those wrong conditions in place… Oh, and pacifiers. Oh, my God. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:13:40] Go on. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:13:41] So. So you who are watching this at home, just pucker your lips together and suck. Mm hmm. Okay. So when you do that for a long time, you will narrow or widen your jaw. When you narrow your jaw, you’re going to crowd up your teeth. Okay. That is in the absence of any other factors like tongue tie and mouth breathing. But suffice it to say, you’ve got mouth breathing. 

Your face is going to go long, narrow and horsey. I love horses. I really appreciate them. But a horsey face on a human? No. It doesn’t get you a part on this in the movie. Okay. And so all of that are the early predisposing factors to the upper jaw failing to grow. The lack of breastfeeding. 

And I don’t want to make all mothers who have to work feel guilty, but they are, you know, nipples are now supposedly come close to the natural nipple that forces the baby to work to get the milk out. The normal rubber nipple, when you turn the bottle upside down, it just leaks right out and the baby’s literally drowning. So when you think it’s feeding and it is really fighting to stay alive. So that doesn’t draw in milk.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:15:11] Yeah, the difference between that breastfed and bottle fed that you’re saying now they’ve got bottles, the nipples on bottles that make the child work harder, which is really important. Yeah.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:15:23] Yeah. Yeah, exactly. And work harder by applying a stimulus against the palate. That is the major secret. And this is God’s really designed to just make the upper jaw grow and through breastfeeding. Yeah. So when you have a long, narrow face and you have legacy of the pacifiers, now you have narrow jaw. When you have tongue that cannot reach the palate, now you have narrow upper airway. 

So when you have narrow jaws, you are going to have not enough room for the teeth to come in straight by a certain age. And that’s on top of, you know, the fast food, the processed food, the street foods and the sugar and the environmental toxins like lead mercury and glyphosate and, you know, animals that are being injected with hormones and antibiotics and you name it. 

So trying to grow a full set of jaw to accommodate all 32 adult teeth is becoming much harder than two generations ago. You know, the rose checkers with two sides was made in your grandma’s chicken is very different from the same that’s delivered to your door today. Mm hmm. Your gut is going to have a hard time recognising the one that are delivered to your door because of the extra unnatural ingredients.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:17:03] Felix, let me just ask you this because this figure of 32 is something that I think we should just focus on for a moment because we say it, and you and I both know what that means, but people are going to throw a big deal. You know. I think it’s worth your observation. You’ve been in practise for quite a few years. 

I’ve been in practise for quite a few years. What percentage of patients that come through the door? Yes, we both got the grey hair. What percentage of patients that come through the door have enough room for all 32 of their teeth through and in perfect alignment? What percentage would you estimate?

Dr Felix Liao: [00:17:43] Less than 5% less in the United States. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:17:46] I would agree. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:17:47] With that in Australia. You probably have a slightly higher percentage only, but for those who grew up in the cities, the odds are against you that you would have room for all t32 of them. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:18:02] It’s true. It’s true. I’ve found that people who have grown up in the country, who have eaten off the farm and natural Whole Foods, are more likely. But I would agree with you, Felix, that 95% of people in our modern world do not have enough room for all 32 of their teeth through an imperfect alignment. It’s quite a statistic, really, isn’t it? 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:18:29] Yeah, we as a species, human beings, would be evolving just because we don’t have room for our wisdom teeth come through anymore. Kids need to have tooth taken out through braces, line up the rest of the teeth, which is, you know to me, a wrong treatment to be civil about it. But those patients, when they grow up to be adults, always end up with more severe case of what we call impair mouth syndrome. Hmm.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:19:04] So in impair mouth syndrome, to come back to answer your question is that when you have a structurally impaired mouth, and that could be jaws are too small for the teeth and by extension, the space between the here’s the upper jaw and here’s the lower jaw. That space in between them is the home office for the tongue. When you don’t have enough room in that space for the tongue, you have a condition that I call it Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:19:37] Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:19:39] The undersized jaws. Right. And now the tongue is shoved into the throat where it threatens life because it’s occupying the airway, not because he wants to be there, but because the jaws are too small. All right. So when you have that, a certain symptoms are inevitable. So you will be tired. You grind your teeth. 

You have clicking jaw joints. You have neck, shoulder and back pain. You’d have rainfall. You have anxiety. You will have depression. You will have the kind of things that you would not want your loved one to have PMS, erectile dysfunction. You would have a sweet tooth. Not just because of a cavity, but you end up with what’s now called Diabetesity, right? That’s diabetes plus obesity. All right. And you have the less capable immune system. 

So there was a study done in the 1970s, and actually, that shows, and I learnt this from Dr. David Brownstein, who I know you also had. A very illustrious guest. Yes. He was the one who called it to my attention that the sugar you could paralyse your immune system for up to 36 hours.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:21:03] Really? Yeah, that’s interesting.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:21:06] And then you have the fast. You have to fast for 60 to 72 hours before the immune system, the killer cells’ ability to eat the bad bacteria and viruses like Pac-Man. You know that video game? Yes. It would regain that ability only after 60 to 72 hours. Wow. It’s a huge imbalance what a sugar hit can do. 

All right. And when you have Impair Mouth Syndrome, you have choked airway. What happens is that you’re driven to munch on carb in order to fuel yourself to deal with the stress, not the psychological one, but the feeling of you’re being choked. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:21:52] Yup. Yes, I mean, the whole I think Matthew Walker from University of California said, and I often quote him, that sleep, consistently good night’s sleep, is your built in non-negotiable life support system.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:22:12] And you better believe it. Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:22:15] And it impacts on every measure of health. And what you’re describing and your actually just you’ve written quite a few books, Felix and I want to talk to you about your two latest ones. But Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage is a wonderful analogy for the tongue because we often look in a patient’s mouth, patients often look in their own mouth and see indentations of their teeth on their tongue.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:22:41] Yes.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:22:41] And tell us about that.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:22:43] That tooth prints on a side of the tongue reflecting several possibilities. One is that the tongue is too fat. It’s swollen. Okay. So, in this case, you may have an eight-foot tiger in a three-foot cage. Okay. Another person… So that’s a hormonal issue that Dr. Brownstein talks about, which is that you have hypo or low thyroid function, and then your whole body will be filled with this thing called mucin because it’s like a clear fluid that is viscous very thin. 

So you look like a doughboy. And the calves, you know, when somebody’s wear shorts, look like they are pizza dough rather than the shapely taper of a dance. And so when the whole body is swollen, the tongue is also swollen. And, you know, now your vital airway space is taken up unnecessarily. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:23:54] So hyperthyroidism is really huge in airway work that I do. The other part is that your jaws may be too small like we said earlier, in impaired mouth structure. Okay. And there’s a study showing that the tooth prints on the side of the tongue is 70% specific for sleep apnoea. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:24:19] Yeah.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:24:19] Yeah. And those people usually would have less sleep efficiency, meaning that you can lay in bed for 8 hours. You may only actually sleep for six. Hmm. Yeah. Hmm. So Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage brings on a lot of problems that seems unrelated. Could be medically. It could be deadly. Could be mentally, emotionally. But here is what I see is that medical patients don’t get asked how your teeth are. 

There are no patient get asked how your medical health is, only to just check out the boxes that we can go on to fix the teeth. All right. Nobody is really connecting the dots. But when you do the Impaired Mouth Syndrome work, you’re sort of the overlap between the two circles where a lot of patients fall into this no man’s land between medicine on the one side and then three on the other side. You know that from doing your TMJ. All right. These patients have on a medical centre here, the source is right here. And the same thing with this.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:25:41] Yeah. I mean, the mouth is really sadly the black hole of health care because, as you say, many medical practitioners, many medical practitioners and patients think a good oral health means they’re not in pain, like have you been to the dentist?

Dr Felix Liao: [00:26:00] Or a good health pun? Or they think that good old house straight white teeth with all this hype on cosmetic things.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:26:09] Yeah, but they often don’t…

Dr Felix Liao: [00:26:10] I think we need a… 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:26:11] They often do quite, I think doctors often take a history of a patient’s oral health by saying, “Have you been to the dentist lately?” And the patient goes, “Yes.” “Anything done?” “No.” “Okay.” So there, is the oral health assessment done or for a patient? Yes. I’m not in pain. Therefore I must be healthy. 

And I often use the analogy of going to see a cardiologist. If I went to see my cardiologist and I walked in, and I said, and he said to me, “Ron, are you in pain?” And I go, “No.” And he says, “Well, come back when you’re in pain, don’t worry about it.” I would kind of think I’m not all that impressed with that assessment of my cardiovascular health. And yet we accept that in oral health. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:26:57] Yes, yes. No pain is not good enough. Straight white teeth are certainly not good enough because your brain is now going to take a pay cut in terms of oxygen supply. So, you know, if you lose 10% of your income, would you feel it? Well, here’s what I know. Of course, depends on how much money you make. Right. If you like, you’re like some of the richest people in the world. 

You would know. But for the brain neurones, it wouldn’t tolerate a 4% drop in oxygen in the blood. Okay. And Dr. Singh did a study with the University of Malaysia Dental School, and they measure the arch length and the width of the patients with sleep apnoea and the ones with that. The difference is 10%. So sleep apnoea patients of jaws are about 10% narrower.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:28:00] Interesting.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:28:01] That’s not very much. Just 10% now, or I will let you sleep apnoea city. And, of course, with that comes all kinds of health risks that you don’t want to have any part. That would include, you know, stroke, high blood pressure, heart attacks and heart failure. I mean, these are just the cardiovascular consequences. Hmm. Yeah. 

So. And even cancer. People who have severe sleep apnoea have something like five times the risk of dying from the same cancer. So if you and I both have the same cancer, and I have severe sleep apnoea, and you have none, I have five times the risk. Now, if I have moderate sleep apnoea compared to you have none, and we have the same cancer, I’ve twice the risk of dying from cancer. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:28:54] Mm hmm. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:28:55] This cancer just grows in oxygen, poor environment. Because your immune system is not as strong as they are, your immune police doesn’t have any weapon. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:29:05] Mm hmm. Yeah. I mean, and also, poor sleep is a precursor to hypo thyroidism as well. So it’s a chicken and egg whole cycle that goes on a downward spiral. That’s another book you’ve written. And I suspect it comes up with some solutions, too. Well, no. Let’s talk about another one. Early Sirens was another book you wrote.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:29:33] Right. Right.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:29:34] I mean, go on. Tell us a bit about that.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:29:36] So general dentists are trained to be very fine tooth operators. Now, we’re fantastic at fixing badly broken teeth and put the form and function back together. I think that evolved from the history of dentistry, where men can use to have all kinds of toothache problems before dentists and that then I guess, got a handle on plaque control. But until then, dentists have nothing but fire to put off with their hands. 

So the dental profession’s roots is in fixing broken and infected teeth. Now, when patient comes back with clean, healthy check-ups, potentially time after time, and they don’t feel well systemically, very likely they have some things going on that the dentist who are looking to fix teeth are not picking up. 

So enter the Sherlock Holmes hat, and we look at the signs and the science, for example, gum recession. All right. Sensitive teeth at the gum line. It’s called app fraction. That means you’re absent a fractional piece of it, too. It’s exquisitely sensitive.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:30:59] For example, clicking jaw joints. All right. For example, persistent dental sensitivity. “Oh, my God, doc. What you do to me? I just have a small feeling that it’s driving me crazy.” And then there’s this. “No, I follow all the normal procedures.” Hmm. Right. So what would set somebody off like that? Every day in office faces patients with head scratching cases. Inexplicable. Geez. 

It should not have been this exaggerated. Mm hmm. Right. So what happened? And so it turns out that there are a lot of clues on the way to some serious conditions we mentioned earlier about heart failure and heart attacks and strokes from sleep apnoea. Well, sleep apnoea is sort of like the end of a long downhill slide. You’re at peak of health in college, right? 

You can get away with murder and party all night and go to class the next day and ace the paper. Right. Well, 40 years later, after eating Westernised diet and sleeping with the choked airway, you find yourself with a medical diagnosis of sleep apnoea, and you had to sleep with the CPAP mask.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:32:20] My question to you is, we are dentists in our profession. I take great pride in being the world’s leading prevention expert. How could this condition have been prevented? That is sleep apnoea or heart attack, or you name it, cancer or Alzheimer’s. Okay. What could have been done? 

Well, it turns out that on the upper part of the downhill slide, the clues are all right here in the mouth around the mouth, so that if you could catch it and fix it right there and then on the upper half, upper one quarter of the downhill slide, you wouldn’t have some of these morbid conditions on the death certificate. Hmm.

So actually a dentist who also can serve as a what I call airway mouth doctor, that’s my brand, could become the most important doctor a patient would ever have because it has to do with airway, sleep and eating healthy and therefore de-stressing your body from this Six-Foot Tiger in that Three-Foot Cage. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:33:40] I love that airway mouth doctor. Yeah. Yeah, very. I mean… 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:33:47] Airway mouth doctor. We need to become mouth doctors. I have lots of patients who say to me, “How come I never heard of this before?” And I said, “Well, you know, the Earth is just becoming flat in the dental world, and we’re able to see beyond, you know, our little silos now.” 

And we need to think globally, and we need to be able to think systemically so that, you know, just as the hip is always connected to the thigh bone, the mouth is connected to the whole. But, you know, let’s think about this for a second. We have a cardiologist. We have a gastroenterologist, right? 

We have eurologist where what we do, and we have neurologists. Do you have a mouth doctor? Do you have an airway doctor? You know. This is one of the foundations of our human body. We grow from here, as we said at the top, but we don’t have a mouth doctor to look after us. And this has everything to do with what your life quality ends up being and how your life ends. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:35:01] Yeah, well, you’ve taken a very holistic approach to dentistry, Felix. As have I, and I know that people will often ask, What is a holistic dentist? What is your answer to that? You’ve just answered, really. I’m a mouth doctor.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:35:21] So it seems weird that you have to put the word holistic. Yeah, that’s right. I mean, when is the body not holistic? Why is the body not whole? It’s not only because we, in our minds, you know, divide the elephant up into different parts. Right. In fact. I would submit that all our health care around the world today, not all. 

That’s a little harsh, but most of the health care, especially the one that’s insurance-based and the government paid for or something that’s got somebody dictating it, usually has a speciality-driven thing where, you know, supposedly the some becomes the whole.

No, the whole is actually much more magical than that. And so what we need to think is that inside the body, there are no departmental lines. Right. The blood that flows in your vein, it does not know where that infection comes from, your teeth, your throat, you know, urinary tract or your skin. It doesn’t matter. All right. And the same thing with stress, right? Whether it’s the mental stress or emotional stress or nutritional stress, or oxygen deprivation, it doesn’t matter. Right. 

Stress is stress. Period. So we need to think holistically because piecemeal care, obviously, not only has not worked, it’s way costly. The bit-by-bit approach to putting the elephant back together. It’s not efficient. And I like to think about how, you know, ICU works. Right. What do they give you in the ICU? The worst case scenario, you had to be admitted to ICU. 

Well, they give you oxygen, either a nasal cannula or ventilator, and they give you an I.V. for fluid and nutrition and drugs if needed. But they also give you a bed. And what’s the purpose of the bed and all the hospitals that measure by the number of beds that has. A bed is where you sleep and recover from. Well, it turns out that now we can do that in your own home and your own bed. Your own kitchen.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:37:45] Yeah.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:37:46] Without that. That’s being proactive in its ultimate sense. Right. So, I mean, look. ICU is necessary. I have the greatest appreciation for the people who work there, and they’re absolutely right out of our society. But, you know, no one really wants to volunteer to go there. 

And you know, if you want to be smart about it, there are ways now where you can be proactive in the way of the early sirens. Pay attention and how this mouth that you own operate is either supporting or subtracting from there now. Hmm. Because if you continually subtract that, you end up in the ICU.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:38:34] Yes. No. Well, that leads us to the next book that you wrote, which was Licenced to Thrive, which sounds a lot more positive and, I’m assuming, comes up with some sort of solution because we don’t want to. I mean, a lot of people have got a six-foot tiger in a three-foot cage and have the early sirens going on all the time, whether they or their health practitioner have recognised them or not. But Licenced to Thrive has a nice appeal to it. Tell us about the Licenced to Thrive.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:39:05] Yes. Okay. So after I started treating a lot of chronic pain patients, fatigue patients and sleep apnoea patients and teeth grinding and TMJ patients, I started thinking about what our profession could do. You know, those of us, not dentists, who are interested in the patients over our overall health and wellness, about what we can do to help them. 

And so the premise is that, you know, when you raise a kid, a kid will thrive to give you what they need. Right. And we all know what those are really to love, attention, education, food security, and, you know, time to play and be yourself, all of that.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:39:52] So I started thinking, well, what would it take for adults to be nurtured so that, you know, if you’ve been suffering on the 9 to 5 hamster wheel or 9am to 10pm hamster wheel for decades, how can you revive yourself? And so I thought about how every one of us owned a mouth and operated one, but how well do we know how to operate it, like how we operate a car or our smartphone? Right. 

I mean, if we came with the instructional manual, I doubt very many of us would read it anyway. But at some point, when you suffer enough, you want to pay attention, say, okay, how can I do better?

Dr Felix Liao: [00:40:22] And so Licenced to Thrive is like you say. Correct. Astutely picked up. That’s meant to impart the idea that, you know, give the body what it needs, and you could have it back in a more vibrant way. So this is aimed at owner and operators of each and every man. And what constitutes the liabilities and what constitutes these assets, and how you can use your mouth in such a way that you support with your mouth, your airway and use your airway to support your healthier eating? 

So as I mentioned earlier, if you are experiencing a choke sensation that makes you anxious, the first thing you want to reach for is something with your teeth. Something with your mouth. Something going on. Somebody did an experiment. And I urge you to say it once I heard the researcher speak. And so they gave these rats, lab rats, a very balanced meal. 

And normally, the rats would just eat its fill and go to the end of the cage and chill. It just leaves what it doesn’t need to eat anymore there. So they found a way to pinch the tail of the rat. So they just clamp the haemostats on the tail and put it after the first night, and the rats would just eeeeh. It’ll be stressed. And they will get on go eat another notch. And after it gets like eating all the leftover lunch, it wouldn’t go on the cage.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:42:35] Hmm.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:42:36] All right. So we relieve stress by activating our muscles of mastication. So the only way you can stop that is by unclamping the tail from the pinch. All right. So we need to unclamp this airway. All right. By freeing the six-foot tiger in that three-foot cage. So eating can be driven by your lack of airway. I suspect that’s where a lot of the addictive eating behaviour or addictive drinking behaviour comes from. 

So fix the airway. We restore sleep. Wake up with a full tank. Having your batteries charged right. Now, you can have a reasonable shot at getting through the day. Otherwise, you’re going to be compensating with dark chocolate, grapes, carbs, doughnuts, pizza, coffee with cream and sugar, and coke and whatever.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:43:38] You mentioned Dave Singh. Professor Dave Singh from Stanford University. You’ll be pleased to know another episode that we’ve done is with Dr. Ted Belfor, who worked very closely with Dave. We won’t go into the politics of it all, but both of them have been exploring human potential, human potential and what we can do. 

You talk about this six-foot tiger, the tongue in a three-foot cage, the mouth, and the implications of this to a person’s health. But we can do something about increasing the size of that three-foot cage to accommodate the tongue, can’t we? 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:44:22] Yes. That’s the contributionof Dr. Singh and Dr. Belfor. Yes. They basically championed the epigenetic appliance. And I’ve since come up with my own design that, you know, makes it a little more patient-friendly, in my view. But I’m just following their step and trying to come up with a Gen-X approach to it. But the principal was brought on by Dr Belfor and Dr. Singh, and I want to acknowledge that for that. 

Absolutely, yeah. And so the whole genetic potential now we’re trying to apply that to Your Child’s Best Face. That’s the title of my new release. It’s called How Parents Can Nurture Top Health and Natural Glow. All right. So we’re not talking about full lips by injections in kids, right? I mean, that would be ludicrous, right?

So how do you get these children to reach their full social scholastic-athletic potential? Well, it turns out you got to have a fully developed maxilla and mandible room enough all 32 teeth to line up straight naturally. Room enough for the tongue to have a nice home office between them without having to take it up the airway. And now we’re able to do that. 

And in that book, I show several cases where under the right circumstances, with well-informed and committed parents and properly designed applies to help Mother Nature along with blow wind in the sale, we can take a kid was bunched-up teeth like an average duckling and turn them into swans.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:46:20] I love your metaphors.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:46:22] Yes, it’s really rewarding to me. To me, that was one of the most joyous things to have people come back looking radiant and beautiful and confident. We even had a case of scoliosis that I straighten in a way that is that floor, even me. And it’s interesting to see how a young lady just went from, you know, someone who’s just kind of want to hide in the corner to just like, okay, look at me now. Yeah, yeah. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:46:58] Yeah, yeah, yeah. Is there a… I mean, at what age does that potential still hold? I mean. Ted, within the programme we did with Ted, and I’ve also interviewed James Nestor, the author of the book Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art. And James attended Ted Belfor’s practise and experienced the epigenetic potential that he had. And I’m assuming he was in his forties, my guess is. What age at what age are we too old? 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:47:41] So the answer is never. As long as you have sound natural teeth. You will have stem cells inside your mouth, and stem cells could be signals like you flip on a switch in the room that you’re in, and the lights will come on. We can signal the stem cells to start working again as if you were a teenager to grow bone using a molecular assembly line. So when you are a teenager, you grow, right? 

That was a natural switch that was drawn just based on time and hormone levels. Now we can help nature along with our epigenetic appliances and the sutures that hold the head together, different pieces of bone form. The head is kind of like, you know, ice blocks from an igloo. We can stretch those joints in a very gentle way and get the body to start growing again. The sutures have been found that past 70 years old is still active. 

So we used to think that, okay, you know, after your age, 25, you start calcifying, and you’re basically toasted. No, that’s not true. It may be that way elsewhere in the body, but this is what I love about my job. This part here, the stem cells are viable and should be switched on. And I love it because all the woman patients just come back looking more beautiful.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:49:21] It’s so interesting. Felix, Isn’t it that these injections to make the lips appear fuller has become one of the most popular cosmetic procedures which are repeated obviously because it doesn’t last for very long? In my last three, I had a patient. How’s this for a story? I had a patient in just feet last week who’s been going for Botox and filler injections. She’s 38 years old and has been going since she was 21 for every 4 to 6 months. Yeah. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:49:58] Oh, my God. So you know what’s price beauty, right? But it turns out that full lips are a sign of beauty. That’s commonly a quite beautiful beauty that’s commonly accepted around the world. And what I find is that with the development of the three-foot cage, the jaws, as it expands, fill the soft tissues, and the creases, the wrinkles go away, and the pink part starts to show up so that there is more real estate for the lipsticks to go on. And, of course, that makes this world a more beautiful place.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:50:41] Well, it also is nice because you don’t actually have to have it repeated every 4 to 6 months because you’ve actually put the substructure in there, and you even are breathing better and being healthier because of it, not making yourself full of Botox. That’s a whole other story. Now there’s another story. There’s another book you’ve written. You’ve been prolific, Felix. I mean, I’m so impressed. Tell me about the other now that you’ve got two new books. The one is called Your Child’s Best Face. What’s the other?

Dr Felix Liao: [00:51:15] Right. Right. And the other one is called Relaunch Your Vitality. So for those of us who are on this side of 29, you start to feel it, and you say, well, geez, you know, what can I do? And the answer you can team up with someone who is a trained airway mouth doctor who would look after all these eggs for you as far as this part is concerned. 

And we collaborate with other healthcare professionals, which I know you have been in touch with, connect with and collaborate with. So your patients are very fortunate. So are your listeners because you’re absolutely on the spearhead of how health care should be practised and delivered. So kudos.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:52:04] Thank you.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:52:05] But here is a practical book. It’s meant to be patient-friendly. It’s like 90 pages. Half of them are pictures. So the paragraphs read more like captions. It’s meant to just educate and flip and say, “I get this.” “Oh, you mean this is possible?” “Oh, okay. So what’s the next step?” Well, you find an airway doctor who can help you. So this is about new directions and new possibilities that we don’t have stay stuck behind the eight ball. We don’t have to accept CPAP. 

We don’t have to accept even braces as inevitable. We can take charge of our three-foot cage. We can take charge of what get pass our lips, what’s done to us and support sleep airway and therefore support the brain and the heart and all the other vital organs through this because this is foundational. The mouth is simultaneously respiratory as well as the digestive organ. 

And it’s also a social. You know, most people don’t realise this thing, but your maxilla. Yeah. Your upper jaw, it goes from the corners of your eyes to the corner of your mouth. And ear to ear, this whole middle third, there is the centre of your face. It’s made out of your maxilla. And in this Facebook era, that defines you. All right? You’re no longer just a silhouette.

You’re this face that you put up there. And so growing your maxilla becomes, I think, a front and centre thing, not only for good looks but good looks. Good looks go with good form. Good form goes with good function, and good function goes with good health. So you don’t lose in this project. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:54:10] Wow, Felix. What a terrific note to finish on, and what a great message to leave our listeners with. And we will, of course, have links to your website and your… Well, I think there are five books and now counting, you know, and thank you so much for that contribution. And thanks for sharing your wisdom and knowledge with us today. 

Dr Felix Liao: [00:54:29] The pleasure’s all mine. Thank you for providing this beacon to the rest of Australia and the world with what you do. 

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:54:41] Thank you.

Dr Felix Liao: [00:54:41] Thank you. 


Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:54:42] I love that metaphor of the Six-Foot Tiger in the Three-Foot Cage because 95% of us in our western world have that tiger in our mouths. Maybe it’s five-foot in a four-foot cage, or maybe it’s six-foot in a three-foot cage. Or maybe it’s seven-foot in a two-foot cage. I think I’ve seen them all, but the tiger refers to the tongue in your mouth, and if there is insufficient space for that tongue, that creates all sorts of problems.

I think it’s also so interesting to hear him discuss the importance of that middle third of the face. And as we see, and I’ve actually done a programme on cosmetic surgery in a different part of the body, of course, but cosmetic practises like lip fillers and Botox are all designed to give fullness to the face and remove wrinkles. 

That actually is a reflection of the middle third of our face and the lower half of our face, the middle third being the maxilla, as Felix said, from the corners of our eyes to our ears to the corners of our mouths. This whole section of the body is the maxilla, and the size and shape of the maxilla determine whether you’ve got enough room for all 16 teeth that should be housed in the upper jaw. 

And it also determines the size and shape of the nasal passages, the sinuses and the back of the throat. So this middle half of the face is really important. The lower half of the face is made up of the lower jaw, which the tongue is attached to. So here’s a little bit of Anatomy 101.

Dr Ron Ehrlich: [00:56:29] But this book, Six-Foot Tiger, Three-Foot Cage, depending on your proportion, because very rarely and less than 5% of cases, Felix, who has been in practise for over 40 years, as have I have observed, that less than 5% of the population have a six-foot tiger in a six-foot cage. In fact, if you have a six-foot cage, it’s really not fair to use the tiger as the metaphor because it’s quite comfortable and got plenty of room. 

The tiger is a kind of an example; well, it definitely is an expression of something which has the potential to cause some problems. Anyway, we will, of course, have links to Felix’s website, Holistic Mouth Solutions, where many of his books are available. And I think there is much to be gained from this very patient-centred, user-friendly author who is clearly prolific. I hope this finds you well. Until next time. This is Dr Ron Ehrlich. Be well. 



This podcast provides general information and discussion about medicine, health, and related subjects. The content is not intended and should not be construed as medical advice or as a substitute for care by a qualified medical practitioner. If you or any other person has a medical concern, he or she should consult with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experiences, and conclusions.