Interview with Dr. Michael Gelb on His New Book "GASP: Airway Health - The Hidden Path To Wellness"
BY ANDREW VAHRADIAN, FEBRUARY 14, 2017
Can you tell us about your background and how you got interested in Sleep Medicine?
When I took over NYU's Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders and Orofacial Pain program in 1989, I met two dental sleep specialists that changed my life. I realized that dentists are uniquely qualified to evaluate and manage a person's airway. I spent the next five years learning and teaching Dental Sleep medicine. I was able to help integrate temporomandibular joint and jaw function into Dental Sleep Medicine. Additionally I earned a Masters degree in Neuromuscular Research, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), to further develop my research and teaching skills in Airway, Sleep, Breathing & Performance.
What inspired you to write "GASP"?
I learned that most Airway, Breathing and Sleep problems are preventable, including snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). Therefore, one can deduce that a good percentage of neurobehavioral and neurocognitive disorders are treatable without medication. Cardiovascular disease is preventable, and even dementia can be delayed, or prevented, with early airway intervention. Dentistry as a profession has been unintentionally closing the airway for the last 90 years. Today, Airway is the most powerful unifying force in dentistry and the Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) agree that Airway is one of the key focuses in Dentistry. I wrote the book because I felt that the public deserved to know what was possible.
What are the greatest challenges you face as a practitioner and author?
The challenge is to increase the awareness of Airway Centered Disorders beyond the current level of the 15% of people that have been diagnosed. The majority of dentists are not trained in Airway. Most Dental Schools have no requirement for Sleep, Airway or Breathing Disorder diagnosis and management, and therefore, "GASP" was written to raise the public and professional awareness of the importance of the airway, and to empower parents, their children, and caregivers by giving them the tools to help their loved ones.
What do you most hope people will remember from your message?
Airway Centered Disorders are the missing link for America's healthcare system. Epigenetic factors may be largely responsible for this epidemic, but Airway management, breathing, oxygen and deep restful sleep are a key element of the solution. There is hope for kids who have a hard time focusing and can't sit still. There is hope for children and adults who are exhausted and never get a restful night's sleep. There is hope for us and our parents who can no longer remember.
What are some of the simple things people can do to determine if they have an Airway issue?
Take a simple questionnaire like STOP BANG or Epworth or have a low radiation cone beam computed tomography (CBCT) test conducted in your dentist's office. A person can ask their Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS) or Medical Doctor (MD) for a home sleep test.
What should a person do if they suspect that they have an Airway issue?
Obtain a home sleep test, or visit a sleep lab and have a polysomnogram sleep study taken. See a sleep specialist or a ProSomnus dentist.
HealthpointCapital has invested in ProSomnus which manufactures the MicrO2 Sleep & Snore oral appliance which you mentioned in your book. What is unique about the product? What do you like about it?
The MicrO2 device takes up very little tongue space and therefore oral appliance therapy (OAT) has been a much more comfortable experience for my patients. Comfort and efficacy are profoundly important when we are treating such a significant and crucial disease with potentially devastating consequences.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Read "GASP" and pass it on to a family members who's lives have been affected by one of the many of the potentially deadly Airway Centered Diseases.
Dr. Michael Gelb is an innovator in airway, breathing, sleep, and painful TMJ disorders, and a pioneer in the Airway Centric method. He has studied early intervention for sleep disordered breathing (SDB), and he specializes in how SBD relates to Fatigue, focus, and pain, and how it can affect family health. Dr. Gelb received his D.D.S. degree from Columbia University School of Dental and Oral Surgery and his M.S. degree from SUNY at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine. He is the former Director of the TMJ and Orofacial Pain Program at the NYU College of Dentistry and is currently Clinical Professor in the Department of Oral Medicine and Pathology at the NYU College of Dentistry. He has pioneered a new paradigm in preventive public healthcare named Airway Centric. He was awarded Diplomate of the American Board of Orofacial Pain in 1995.