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Ryan Robinson, DDS, is a unicorn in the medical world: a dentist who helps people open up their airways and learn how to breathe properly.

Breathe properly? What are you talking about?, I hear you say. If I'm alive, then I must be breathing properly, right?

Not exactly. It turns out that one of the casualties of modern life is the shape of our skull and the corresponding size of our airways. For the past 300 years, since the advent of the industrial revolution, we've been eating softer food, robbing our tongues, jaws, and lips of sufficient exercise.

And those deficiencies have, in turn, affected the growth and structure of our upper and lower jaws. Basically, our jaws are smaller, and our mouths are smaller, and our nasal airways are pinched.

How might you know you have a breathing problem? If you snore when you sleep, check. If you clench or grind your teeth during sleep, check. If you breathe through your mouth, check.

And breathing affects how well we digest our food. It affects how well we sleep. It affects our body's perceived and actual levels of stress. It can give us clear or infected sinuses. Poor breathing can actually cause depression and anxiety that we'll never fix by therapizing since the conditions are rooting in physiology rather than psychology.

Ryan Robinson was an “ordinary” dentist, or “tooth mechanic” as he put it, until he discovered the field of airway health and completely changed his practice to focus on healthy airways.

In our conversation, we talk about the reasons for our modern breathing problems, the wide variety of health costs, and several approaches to treatment. Since I traveled to Delaware for a consultation, we talked about my mouth, nose, and airways in particular. You can see the video of my visit here:

Bad breathing is an epidemic in the modern world, one that is profound in its harms and almost completely unrecognized by the medical profession.

As a big fan of lifestyle medicine, I hope my platform can get the attention of some of the bigwigs at the American College of Lifestyle Medicine to make Breathing the 6th lifestyle pillar, after Nutrition, Exercise, Sleep, Stress management, and Social support. I hope you'll help in this mission, so that we can all begin to breathe just a little bit easier.

Enjoy, add your voice to the conversation via the comment box below, and please share – that's how we spread our message and spread our roots.

Links

Dr Ryan's Practice: PainandSleepCenter.com

Breath, by James Nestor

Pain and Sleep Center YouTube channel

Dr Marianna Evans' Practice (orthodontist and skull expert)

Patrick McKeown (breathing educator)

Pediatric Airway Symposium 2021

Oura Ring

SnoreLab App

Glenn Murphy's StressProof Class – first ever online course (after bugging/begging him for 5 years!)

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Music

The Plant Yourself Podcast theme music, “Dance of Peace (Sabali Don),” is generously provided by Will Ridenour, a kora player from North Carolina who has trained with top Senegalese musicians.

It can be found on his first CD, titled Will Ridenour.

You can learn about Will, listen to more tracks, and buy music on his website, WillRidenour.com.

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