New studies in airway-focused dentistry are ushering in a major paradigm shift in our field. Fifteen Years ago, airway wasn’t even on our radar. For those of us focusing on TMD, it was all about second molar interferences causing TMJ problems. We spent our time debating CR and CO and muscle versus joint position. It’s exciting to see how experts are realizing airway is a critical point for evaluating a case. We’re better understanding just how important breathing is to so many of the cases we see. Breathing might be why a patient clenches his jaw, or why she grinds her teeth. Things wepreviouslyblamedon things like parafunction turned out to be airway issues.By expanding our focus to airway, we’re able to catch medical issues patients may not have thought to investigate. As dentists, we’re the health care providers spending a lot of time with healthy people. Our physician colleagues have unfortunately been siloed into only seeing sick people, and only being able to be in the room with them for a short period of time. When’s the last time you received an x-ray at the doctor as part of a regular check-up? Dentists are able to screen people who are asymptomatic and help patients to catch a health issue earlier. Take Orthodontics As an example. Orthodontists sometimes perform two-phase orthodontics where they treat children early then treat them again when they’re a bit older. Colleagues and parents alike though orthodontists were billing patients for money, and that kids should wait for treatment until they’re 11 or 12. Now that we realize early treatment could improve their airway, we see how it can also help children’s growth and development. Is it profitable? Yes, but most importantly it’s the right thing for a young patient’s healthy development.