Staying airway-aware

Dr. Stuart Frost


Two years ago in July, I was sitting in the sand with my family in Newport Beach, California. I was enjoying the sun when my nephew, Jesse, approached my twin brother, Steve, and I with a very concerned look on his face. He told us both that he just spoken to a lady who was frantically searching for her 2-year-old son. We got up to help her since the lifeguard wasn’t proving to be helpful. We rushed over to where her family was and asked her where she saw him last. “He was digging in the sand just a few feet away a few minutes ago,” she cried. As I surveyed the scene, I noticed a patch of sand that had been recently filled in. My mind was immediately flooded with the memory of a conversation I had with a lifeguard a few years earlier. He told me that a child had died digging in a large hole after it collapsed on top of him. I immediately told Jesse to start digging where the sand had been recently disturbed, and Steve and I started digging next to him. The image of Jesse pulling the 2-year-old boy’s lifeless body out of that hole is burned into my memory. My twin brother, Steve, immediately started performing CPR as I held the boy’s head and cleared his throat that was filled with sand. After what seemed like an eternity, his lower lip quivered. I yelled, “Steve, his lower lip moved! Keep going!” Moments later, the boy gasped for air. Color rushed back into the boy’s gray face as he screamed for his father. By the grace of God, this little boy made a full recovery from what could have been a fatal accident. (Editor’s note: To read the full story of the rescue, check out the article titled “Brooks’ Heroes,” Orthodontic Practice US, September/October 2016;7(5):62.)

Many who have heard this story call the three of us heroes, but I’ve never considered myself to be a hero. All I did was act in the moment to help someone in need. Reflecting back on that day, I’ve come to realize that as orthodontists, we don’t have to give someone CPR to be a hero. We can literally save lives every day by practicing Airway Aware Orthodontics.

Thousands of children suffer from airway issues and go untreated in our communities. Many of them display symptoms of ADHD due to the lack of oxygen getting to the brain, and many pediatricians don’t know what they don’t know and just prescribe medications. One such patient came to my office last year.

I sat with a mother in my office who brought her daughter in for orthodontic treatment. This poor girl had a decreased airway and was experiencing weight gain, lack of energy and sleep, bed-wetting, and poor school performance. I decided to rescue this girl by initiating my Airway Protocol, which includes an assessment of the tonsils and adenoids, a minimal constricted airway point measurement using our i-CAT™ FLX, and a Rapid Palatal Expander with braces. After 12 months of treatment, we doubled her airway volume and transformed this girl’s life. The mother cried as she explained the changes that occurred in her daughter’s life over that year of treatment. Her sleep quality and school performance improved; she stopped wetting the bed, and she started playing sports and exercising.

At a time in orthodontics when there is a lot of uncertainty and uneasy feelings about the future of our profession, we can rest assured that we will never be replaced if we seek to help “the one.” We can be heroes every day in our practices by saving children’s lives through practicing Airway Aware Orthodontics. I have seen it time and time again in my practice and want to share this protocol with the rest of the world. If you would like to transform your practice in to an Airway Aware practice, I would love to help you. Please text “Airway” to +1-480-630-5180.

Dr. Stuart Frost

Stuart Frost, DDS, graduated with honors from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry (UPSD). He completed a fellowship for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunctions and a residency in Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics at the University of Rochester in New York. He is a Damon™ System Mentor and an associate professor at UPSC. Dr. Frost has spoken at the Ormco™ Damon System Forum, the American Association of Orthodontics Annual Session, and the IDAP in Puerto Vallerta, Mexico. He hosts continuing education courses and has repeatedly been named one of the Top Orthodontists in Phoenix Magazine.

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