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


Arthur M. Strauss, D.D.S.
Diplomate, American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine *

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Articles - Your Health Magazine, August 2008

Impaired Oral Function and Musculo-Skeletal Pain, Part I

In part two of my previously published three part series “Women, Breathing, Sleep Apnea, Menopause, Posture and More” I discussed the three ways the body compensates for impaired oral functions of speaking, swallowing and breathing. They are:

In this two-part article, I suggest the following exercise to demonstrate “postural compensation” and how your posture is associated with breathing and may be causing your pain.

Ideal posture is when the earlobes are directly over the centers of the shoulders, the hip bones, the knees and the ankles and these landmarks [right to left] are parallel to the horizon while the body is perpendicular to it.

To demonstrate this, stand barefoot with your heels, buttocks, shoulders, head and back against the wall. Then note that to force your posture straight, the head is tilted upward. Keep the back of your head and shoulders against the wall and tip your head down until your eyes are parallel to the horizon, as a soldier at attention. This will cause you to feel as if your airflow is reduced or cut off, and may even cause choking.

While in this position, attempt to speak, swallow and breathe. Note your ease or difficulty in this. Finally, move away from the wall, back to your comfortable compensated posture referred to as normal, and attempt to speak, swallow and breathe again and compare the difference.

It is easier to breathe when you are standing less straight. If the tongue is pushed back, it narrows the throat or airway. Curving the spine forward, behind the throat, provides more space behind the tongue and opens the airway.

Experts indicate that sleep apnea and snoring from collapse of the tongue into the throat worsens with age. And, this may be why we get bent over as we age – to compensate for this, and be able to breathe easier.

We can us CPR as another way to illustrate this. The first priority of CPR in an unconscious person is to open the airway. Most everyone knows that tipping the head backward helps to achieve this. It mimics our initial stance during the exercise. It’s not perfect posture, but it helps open the airway. Also note that the forward jaw thrust used during CPR also helps open the airway during the exercise after the head is tipped forward and down to the horizon.

Most people are unaware that they unconsciously position their head and neck to allow them to breathe easier. At the same time, the position which helps them breathe easier may be the same position which causes musculo-skeletal problems, and associated pain in the head, neck, shoulders and other parts of the body. They are usually just as unaware of the modern methods to treat these problems.

Save this article, as it leads into part two in your next Your Health Magazine issue.

* 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, D.D.S.

311 Park Avenue
Falls Church, VA 22046

Phone: 703-237-2350
Fax: 703-241-8414
Email: or

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