Unlocking Potential: Upper Airway and Jaw Health

My conversation with Professor Dave Singh earlier this week was a wonderful experience. Dave is not only a dentist and orthodontist but also a published author and a lecturer at Stanford University. When I first met Dave, which was probably ten years ago, he suggested that I read a book, The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, and I'm very grateful for that. It's an excellent book that everyone should read.

In this Healthy Bite, come along as I discuss some of the important takeaways from my conversation with Dave, including the significance of craniofacial development, the significance of nasal breathing, the importance of epigenetics, and a great deal more.

Upper Airway – Have You Fulfilled Your Potential?

This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Professor Dave Singh. Dave Singh is a dentist, orthodontist, author, and lecturer at Stanford University. I met Dave in Australia probably over ten years ago when I did his first course; he introduced me. At the time, he recommended I read a book called The Biology of Belief by Bruce Lipton, which I did, and I was internally grateful to him for that.

Bruce writes about epigenetics, and so does Dave Singh. Dave Singh actually has three PhDs. Oh, my God. It’s like one isn’t enough. I’ve interviewed people like Dr Traill Dowie and Dr Marc Cohen, who have two PhDs, but I went one better this time and found and reconnected with Dave Singh, who actually has three PhDs.

He focuses on creating enough space in your upper and lower jaws and, therefore, your upper airway to breathe well and sleep well. This is all about your genes fulfilling their genetic potential, using various appliances worn just at night that can stimulate bone growth at the sutures of your skull.

Now, it’s worth going back to some basics here and just pointing out that the lower jaw is a bone, one separate bone. But the skull is made up of many bones, and those bones connect via sutures. When anatomy is studied at universities, and you look at dried skulls, it looks like these sutures are very tightly fused together. But that simply isn’t the case. 

You know, in a living human, these sutures join bones together of the sites where growth has potential if forces are directed in a particular way.

About the importance of swallowing in a correct way

We talk with Dave about the importance of swallowing in a correct way because swallowing is an important driver in developing good jaw development. We swallow 700 to 900 times a day, and when we do, the tongue goes to the roof of the mouth. The tongue is a really powerful muscle. It generates a force. Let me put a figure on it of 500 grams. 

Now, why is that significant? Well, your lips and cheeks also generate a force of about 300 grams, so if there was a balancing act going on between the force that your tongue’s exerting on your palate to create a broad, flat, upper jaw, it will always win over the lips and the cheeks. 

We’ve got 500 grams of tongue force against 300 grams of lip and cheek force. Okay, that seems reasonable. That’s why if our tongue is where it should be, resting on the roof of the mouth when we are breathing through our nose, that is what goes on.

But if you’re a mouth breather, that means you’re breathing through your mouth, and that means your tongue can’t be on the roof of the mouth exerting that force. That means that your lips and cheeks are exerting a force that causes your upper jaw to be narrower. In many people’s cases, it’s very much narrower.

In most people’s cases, it’s slightly narrower. But one thing is for sure, although we have evolved to have 32 teeth in our mouth, that means 16 teeth on the top jaw, 16 teeth on the bottom jaw, and over 90%. I would suggest it’s between 90-95% at least of the population don’t have enough room for all of their teeth.

The profession, the medical community, every person has come to accept it as “Oh well, no, that’s just normal.” Well, it may well be normal, but it’s not ideal. Because the size and shape of your mouth literally determine the size and shape of your upper airway.

The power and the importance of nasal breathing

The other thing that’s really important is the power and the importance of nasal breathing for so many reasons. When you are breathing, and we breathe 16 to 20 times a day. Ideally, it should be a little lower. It should be a little less. I think around 12 to 16 would be really remarkable. 

But let’s say 15 or 16 is normal, and that means you are breathing a lot through the day, and when you are breathing, your tongue should be resting on the roof of your mouth. Your teeth should be lightly touching or slightly apart. Your lips should be lightly touching, and you should be breathing through your nose. 

Here we are, breathing 15 or 16 times a minute. Here we are swallowing 700 to 900 times a day. And nature is wonderful in that it has evolved; we have evolved for this tongue to be the best orthodontic appliance you could ever have.

It’s there all the time, and as you breathe, it’s resting on the palate. As you swallow, it’s actually pushing on the palate, so when you swallow, it exerts a greater force and that force, as I just swallowed on the palate, keeps the upper jaw broad and flat and wide.

And remember, the roof of your mouth is the floor of the nose. It’s the same bone, so if that bone was broad and flat, then your septum would be like a T-junction, perfectly formed. Perfect T. An upside-down T. Because the palate is also the floor of the nose. 

But if your jaw is narrow and if your palate is bolted and higher, then that means the septum is pushed out or round or deflected or deviated. Many people may have been told they have a deviated septum that has been corrected. I know I had that myself. 

I had a deviated septum that I had all my life. And at 21, the nose and throat specialist looked in my nose and said, “You need to have your deviated septum corrected and straightened.” so I did. I did. I had that done. 

Then when I was visiting the nose and throat specialist at the age of 35, he looked at my nose and said, “You should have your septum straightened.” and I said, “I did.” But you see, unless you address the cause of the problem, it doesn’t actually fix necessarily fix the problem.

This is what the discussion of this week’s podcast was all about, and I’m very excited to have another world leader in this area, Dr Ted Belfor from New York, who will be joining us in a few weeks’ time as well to talk more about this potential to develop upper and lower jaws. 

It was great to reconnect with Dave Singh. I was very grateful to him for introducing me. It was probably more like ten or 15 years ago to Bruce Lipton, to his book The Biology of Belief, and more importantly, to the concept of Epigenetics. We’ve had Bruce on the programme on one or two occasions. He’s an absolute legend. I love having him on.

He’s a wealth of knowledge and information, and inspiration because you are not a victim of your genes. Your family history is very important. Make no mistake about that. It is. But you are not a victim of your genes because your genes still have to express themselves in a particular way. 

Now, what’s so interesting about Bruce Lipton’s book, The Biology of Belief, which I recommend to you, is that he made the point that thoughts are things. This is why The Biology of Belief – thoughts are things, and those things are neurotransmitters. 

Little chemicals, little proteins that float around the body and attach to cell membranes and cause genes to express themselves in a certain way.

Gut health and the gut as the second brain

Now we did a programme, we’ve done many programmes on gut health and the gut as the second brain, well, we’re now calling it the first brain because so many neurotransmitters are produced in the gut. 80% of the body’s serotonin is produced in the gut.

Serotonin is the target for many antidepressants, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, and SSRIs. So neurotransmitters, our thoughts, are things, and those things are neurotransmitters that attach to cell membranes and cause their genes to express themselves in a particular way.

Well, that’s one way for genes to express themselves. Nutrients or anti-nutrients, toxins, and environmental toxins are other things that can float around in the body core or attach to cell membranes and cause our genes to express themselves.

Well, it turns out that light forces also have that effect. Your tongue is exerting a force 700-900 times a day, creating an effect that has the potential, if it’s well-directed, to cause epigenetics.

Changes in those sutures can cause bones to grow themselves grow. You know, this isn’t something that’s just restricted to children. Our oldest patient doing this kind of therapy is 82 years old; you’re never too old. I mean, it is better to get it early. There’s no question about that.

The question is, how stable is the result? And then the question comes down to how well functioning is your tongue and lip and swallowing and breathing patterns, so this was a great opportunity to introduce you to the epigenetics of jaw development, and this is the thing that we’re going to be exploring in future as well. So I hope you enjoy that episode. 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.