Stop, Look and Listen

I cannot remember when this admonition was indelibly printed into my psyche, but it was at a very young age and its wisdom has remained useful for all occasions. How many times have you thought “stop the world, I want to get off” when the pace of life gets so fast and furious you just can’t catch up?

We miss out and do not appreciate so many important events when we ignore such simple advice. My idea is that we all stop, look and listen to our breathing, the most important event in life from your first breath until the next. How you breathe determines your mental, physical, and emotional health. Breathe incorrectly and you are already in trouble and seriously damaging the finest health care system ever provided; your remarkable body- and if you stop, look and listen you will be overwhelmed by the brokenness of breathing right.

How many times do you breathe a minute?   How long can you hold your breath after 2 deep breaths (no hyper ventilating – that is harmful!)?  How long can you hold your breath after exhaling? Does your abdomen or chest rise and fall with breathing?  Can you hear yourself or others breathing? Do you sleep with your mouth open? Do you breathe through your mouth at any time during the day? Is your normal head posture forward of your shoulders? How many paces can you walk while holding your breath and can your recover normal breathing within 4 breaths? Do you snore, sigh, sneeze or cough frequently? Do you know if you over breathe and what effect that will cause?  Do you wake up with a dry mouth or wake up frequently to urinate? What would happen if you taped you mouth shut during the night?

Every answer to each question is vitally important if you are interested in how much oxygen is getting to your brain, the most fantastic computer ever designed. Your PC, I-pad or cell phone, amazing as they are, are simplistic toys compared to the human brain that is working non-stop for you 24/7. All it asks of you is to give it the proper balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide that keep its cells functioning in tip top condition.  That can only happen if your mouth is closed and you breathe through your nose.

Our health care system has a breathing problem that has been overlooked by our high tech- pill cure medical system that has failed to teach their patients the first principle of life.  I have an airway centered orthodontic practice where breathing problems are so easily recognized and can be referred to the appropriate medical specialists who can resolve the problem, but so often it is too late because the development of the mouth and face has been compromised by 7 – 12 years of improper breathing.Harrison-Mouth-Open-at-Desk-shutterstock_554309923

Parents, Pediatricians, Birthing Centers, Day Care Centers, Nursery School Staff, Kindergarten and Elementary School Teachers, Coaches, all health care providers and Joe the Plumber need to know why we are not at peak health and what to do about it. I intentionally repeat myself by saying the Airway is the Highway to Health and Your Nose is the Onramp.

My profession, my specialty, Orthodontics by definition and default has always been concerned with the development of the jaws and face which depend on an adequate anatomical functioning airway during the night while sleeping. The benefits of sleep depend entirely on how well you breathe at night. Our most important service is correcting sleep disordered breathing so that orthodontic correction will be esthetically stable and functional until that final breath. If you have concerns regarding this information as it relates to children or adults please call (727) 822-3156 for a courtesy appointment and learn how we have helped many recover vibrant health and beautiful smiles.

Read The Breath of Life

Harrison Just Breathe





John B. Harrison DDS, MSc


Pillow Fight, A to ZZZZ

Believe it or not, your bed is a battle ground, but be glad the fight is on a mattress with pillows not up on “hacksaw ridge” strewn with rock and ruin and daytime nightmares. The battle going on at night for each of us is the tug of war going on between the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems; the winner has dire consequences for our health and well being. If the “rest and digest” parasympathetic system prevails, we enjoy refreshed repairing deep sleep, facing the day ahead with energy, focus and enthusiasm. On the other hand, if the “fight or flight” sympathetic system is called in to play by a brain starved for oxygen, then the war of attrition and degraded performance mars your next day’s activities and a slow downward spiral of emotional, mental, and physical stress begins to squeeze the life out of you.

Harrison-Pillow-Fight-400The simple fact for the alarming decline in Western health is directly related to the quality and quantity of sleep we need each night to recover and recharge to maintain health. Far too much medication has been prescribed for depression, anxiety, anger, ADHD, chronic fatigue, obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure when the it’s a pillow not a pill solution.

So what business does a dentist have to do with sleeping issues when we have the greatest health care system in the world with all the high-tech equipment to diagnose a misplaced gene or chromosome? Plenty! First, the greatest health care system in the world is you; not being in denial or making excuses for not feeling up to par and taking responsibility for the most basic, simple and natural key to health, learning and training ourselves to sleep properly throughout the night. There are at least 40 signs and symptom that every dentist sees every day that strongly correlate to dysfunctional sleep. It is as plain as the nose on your face, your eyes, and the wisdom of teeth telling the story that cannot be denied.

We are becoming a “quality” sleep deprived nation of premature overmedicated Zombies. There is nothing more important than your next breath and you have less than three minutes to get it right for the body to stay in a balanced healthy state. It all starts with the newborn and toddlers where breathing problems can be recognized and treated. Our teenagers are really sleep challenged with their electronic pacifiers and over charged lifestyle, but enough to say every age is affected to some degree.

The take home message is the Airway is the Highway to Health and the nose is the onramp. God intended us to breathe through our nose not our mouth. Our brain does not off load the oxygen it must have to function if you mouth breath. Let’s breathe right and not pillow fight.

Get more facts, gain knowledge, download “The Breath of Life” or call us to learn more: (727) 822-3156

John B. Harrison DDS, MSc


“Truth or Consequences”

Harrsion - FAKE REAL shutterstock_312068489Most of you reading this were not even born when the first game show on TV was broadcast in 1950. It was Ralph Edwards’s brain child and the TV version really captivated America as we watched a black and white screen many times covered in wavy lines marring the images moving about on the tube, but we were glued to this new invention, bound to get unfuzzier. The contestants had a short time to answer a question truthfully before the buzzer sounded or face the consequences of having to perform a zany stunt in front of watching America. The truth of the matter was that good sport contestants actually preferred the consequences to the truth so that all of us could LOL. That human trait intrigues me – do we really prefer the consequences over the truth?  We are  forced by the current fake news epidemic and political mendacity to believe that truth has suffered a serious setback, worse, I see it more and more in the profession I love and passionately uphold to the highest ethical standards.

Dentistry’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct is witnessing an unwarranted and unprecedented degradation, foreign to us old school practitioners brought up under the assumption that advertising always substituted truth for the desire of emotional self-satisfaction. We were taught to always put the patient’s welfare and well being ahead of any other consideration not lure a patient to accepting something that gave more to us than we gave back to our patients. Of late, patient beware, it is all about the economic well being of the stock holders of a corporate entity “owning” the dentist and demanding bottom line’s upward climb each quarter. A moral dilemma is always created when a third party intrudes between doctor and patient. Dental “Insurance” is a perfect example, which in and of itself is bad enough without the second layer “corporate quotas” pressuring the indentured dentist for unrealistic production levels without gaming a flawed, arbitrary system that causes the attempt to maximize reimbursement. Why not? The insurance and the corporation are skimming off the cream of the dentists ‘s skill and labor and some of the coding will be denied by the insurance carrier even if the procedure was needed and completed in good faith.  Profit centers have been created for the General Dentist to make more money and one big wide-open arena is, guess what?  Orthodontics

The tsunami in Dentistry is General Dentists offering orthodontic treatment.  Anyone has a right to question credentials, but few know enough to appreciate the diagnostic intelligence and technical skills required to complete an excellently treated case and how to judge the long-term maintenance necessary to call yourself an orthodontist worthy of the specialty.  A weekend course for certification to provide orthodontic treatment looks legitimate to unaware public.

The fast food franchise mentality has invaded dentistry by heavily marketing “super-fast” orthodontic treatment within 3 – 6 months. General Dentists are led to believe that turbo induced tooth movement is a new frontier that conventional or traditional orthodontics cannot compete with. Dentist around the country were quick to latch on to the computer driven Invisalign method of correcting crooked teeth which can be frustratingly slow, subject to non-compliance with less than ideal results because of lack of knowledge and experience. So, the popularity of fast results is taking hold for those rejecting a truthful answer and who are unprepared for the consequences. Teeth do not move faster or better with one technique vs. another. Moving teeth to the proper location biologically, functionally and aesthetically takes longer than 3 – 6 months. What is unsaid to the uninitiated is “Sir/Mam, do you want me to paint just the front of your house for $4,000 quickly by an amateur or paint the entire house for $5000 thoroughly by a professional?”

Truth or consequences!

John B. Harrison DDS, MSc


One, Two, Three


Harrison 123_586412090 800The Toddler age from birth to three presents many challenges for parents, healthcare professionals, and the kids themselves. Poor prenatal health of the mother, premature births and failed nursing adaptation begin a cascade of issues that compromise timely and orderly development of the face.  Unprepared and untrained parents need counseling and support for the difficult and all-consuming mission of raising children.

The baby product market is a confusing array of pacifiers, teethers, sippy cups, and designer nipples for bottle feeding.  Do you really think the manufactures care “a lick” about what encourages good oral development? Is soothing the baby more important than the risk of cavities, cross bites and open bites that will result at age 7? Could something be done to prevent your child from 2 years of braces when they are 12?  Well “Yes” and “No”, “Maybe” and “Sometimes”, “It Depends”.

Orthodontist are very interested in early facial development as I would think Pedodontist, Pediatricians and Pediatric ENT physicians are as well, but as a rule that needs to be broken, orthodontist do not see children until they are 6 or 7 manifesting the accumulative insults they have had to accommodate to from those early years.

So, what are the signs and wonders the new parents should be aware of?  Nothing can compete with excellent prenatal health, full term natural delivery and natural nursing. That’s a big 1,2,3, seldom achieved. The earliest signs of future problems are mouth breathing and tongue tie. Children should sleep with mouth closed throughout the night and the tongue should be checked for a binding frenum keeping the tongue bound to the lower jaw and limiting its range of motion. Low tongue posture will certainly cause the upper arch to narrow into cross bite because the tongue is not postured correctly. Speech and swallowing will also be adversely affected as time will demonstrate. Another hurdle toddlers must jump is another 1,2,3. Tonsils, adenoids, and ear infections are airway restrictions that can impede and alter facial development. Sleep and dietary habits are crucial and critical for physical and mental health. General behavior and mental abilities are indicators of future expectations again pointing to the requirements of sleep stages.

Young children that have sleep disordered breathing and sleep apnea should be addressed first with a pediatric sleep study to determine the appropriate treatment but not all physicians are aware of how much orthodontic intervention can contribute to success. The most important training these children can receive is being taught how to breath correctly – mouth breathing must stop or success is limited.  The focus begins with widening the upper arch to a normal size for that individual so that the tongue can occupy its correct position.  Breathing improves because the nasal airway volume is increased. Adding a mandibular advancing appliance when the lower jaw is deficient in length aids in its development as well as opening the airway space behind the tongue  But, above all else, unless breathing is nasal, many problems cannot be resolved.

Don’t let one, two, three strikes risk your child’s health and well being. Age two – three is the ideal time to evaluate facial development.


John B. Harrison DDS,MSc

What’s the Use?

Harrison 101417287 Trust 800Just because something is used does not mean it is useful, but exposing the useless these days is almost a fool’s errand fraught with frustration and possible legal action. Our culture is rejecting truth and ethics while enthusiastically embracing the fake and false. The latest item du jour goes viral and is stampeded by shoppers or delivered immediately by drones. The peer pressure of the lemmings’ marching music to possess and be one toy up is irrationality at best and insanity at worst. We are so accustomed to disposable and limited useful life that we have lost the meaning of lasting value.

I hope you agree that we are being invaded and dominated by the Trojan Horse of digital technology, intentionally designed to addict us and our children to its lure of increased self- gratification with the latest app or model. Believe me, the inventors know how to program our brain to want what we do not have. We are brain washed into thinking the latest widget is indispensable to our welfare. Like the Food Industry taking advantage of our sugar craving to create more junk food proven harmful to health, technology creates digital opiates to damage our brain in frightening ways we have yet to truly understand, but the concerns are serious as we lose touch with the real wonderful world.

Dentistry, for over half my career, used to be anti-advertisement and anti-self-promotion., We had a strict code of ethics as high as Church Discipline and no reasonable dentist crossed the red line, but the ACLU and the Courts struck down high ethical standards for professionals and the plunge to Darwinian “survival of the most cunning conniver” happened ever so quickly. I think you have to have a trace of Calvinism to correctly understand the depravity of man when no ethical or moral standards are upheld.

As Insurance companies, Wall Street Corporations and Government invade and control health care as a commodity, an impersonal dynamic blindside us. The bonded relationship between patient and doctor (the backbone of heath care) suffers divorce. When I think of the time my father in law, my brother, my two uncles, my cousin spent with their patients and the personal care they gave each patient without a five-minute limit, a grading system for performance outcome, detailed Insurance regulation, a daily quota overload and your doctor paying more attention to the computer screen than you, it saddens me because I know that a bygone era was much better than now.

Technology, as useful as it can be, is still a two-edge sword that does not rightly divide true or false. It can be grossly misused and worse misinterpreted leading to erroneous evidence. We are fast accepting the fact that “Watson” knows everything and will call the play for us without human interaction. Tell that to Capt. Sully who decided to ignore the instructions his flight computers on- board and control towers were reporting in those fateful final moments while he diverted his plane to land on the Hudson River to save every life aboard rather than risk the crash and tragedy his computers programmed.

Dentistry is not about fancy gadgets and virtual reality presented on a screen to amaze and dazzle you. It is about the intelligent informed communication between people who understand the limits of truth and the proper use of any device that will help achieve a desired outcome. I want a seasoned Captain flying the plane when the computer malfunctions and the grid is down.

“It’s the Indian not the arrow”.


John B. Harrison DDS, MSc


“Whoa Nelly”

A rush to judgment with a very critical nature is smoldering in dentistry over the neglect of duty and responsibility of orthodontists to tender and render air way analysis and intervention at pre-school ages.


Harrison Judgment shutterstock_514866298 400Admittedly, this age has not received orthodontic attention, not because of neglect of duty or ignorance of causative factors such as mouth breathing, but because effective, efficient and economic recovery from treatment can best be guided when first molars and permanent incisors have completed root development and the child intellectually understands, owns the problem and is willing to be coached. (“no wine before it’s time”) Just as important to the equation is active growth for something good to happen. This fire needs to be quenched by those who struck the match that lit rifts of drought stricken brush strewn across health care.

A wise axiom should be applied “you don’t know what you don’t know” which we see repeatedly in the medical community as they fail again and again with trial and error “cures” often enough with our loved ones who continue to suffer from unknown causes. Another wise saying taught long ago is “which is worse, to be taught wrong or never learn at all”?. Honest introspection proves all of us have been taught wrong and we know we don’t know what needs to be learned until the awkward advance of knowledge alerts us. Learning is infinite not finite. We have way too much of one side insulting and accusing another of some impropriety, of one side a perpetrator of wrong, the other the victim, one side a greedy capitalist causing poverty to the other. We need statesmen not protesters to advance dentistry’s perimeter to higher ground not a circular firing squad. I believe it is my duty as a conscientious orthodontist objector to respond – one, by the way, who as a preschooler was tongue tied, stuttered with speech dysfunction, mouth breathed and drooled with low forward tongue posture, a tongue thrusting swallowing pattern, anterior open bite and bilateral posterior cross bite with tonsil and adenoid problems. I was embarrassed to eat a sandwich in front of anyone because all the contents fell out on my chin. I had two contacts on the distal marginal ridges of my first molars on one side, no other teeth close to touching. Just to ice the cake, my orthodontic hero is my father who did everything he knew to get his kid’s teeth to fit, close his mouth, correct his tongue habit, get tonsils and adenoids out, and constantly remind me “mouth closed breathe thru nose”. In my 52 years of orthodontic practice and 26 years of teaching orthodontics to GP residents, I have encountered only two cases worse than I was. But you ought to see me now and that is exactly why I wanted to become an orthodontist who cares a lot about kids like I was.

So maybe I’m qualified to address an issue that needs not the slings and arrows of conflict, but the olive branch of brotherhood, of leaning from past mistaken knowledge or lack thereof and our attention turned towards a better future for our patients.  The pre-school child first needs observant and educated parents, a pediatrician, a pediatric ENT, a pedodontist, maybe a myofunctional therapists and breathing coach long before an orthodontist ever gets an opportunity to see a patient still demonstrating the effects of airway issues. To me timing is everything and too much long term early treatment can burn a kid out just when we need their greatest motivation and compliance. There is no special bridle to strap on the horse to lead them to drink from the fountain of knowledge. The horse must trust you and respond to the reins. I sure wouldn’t pick up a stone and throw it at my father. He was an airway orthodontist before WWII.

Whoa Nelly!   John B, Harrison DDS, MSc

Let’s Face It

Harrison-LetsFaceIt_400You would think your orthodontist would be most interested in aligning teeth so that a terrific smile creates a beautiful face. Certainly, that is what orthodontics is all about, right? Well not exactly. We would be out of business if the face developed properly because then the teeth would follow their proper course without any need of orthodontic intervention. It is the myriad of insults the face encounters from conception to maturity that unfavorably alter teeth. One of my most gratifying experiences is to compliment someone for their stunning smile; “I love your teeth”, so that I can give their orthodontist credit for a job well done, only to hear that they have never had any orthodontic treatment.” Wow! way to pick your parents” I say, meaning you have had the good fortune of being wonderfully made in an ideal environment with excellent life style choices all along the way. Deer hunters score that perfection- and anything over a 150 is a wall hanger, granting the one bad choice the deer made poking his lovely head out of the woods. Why is it that well over 50% of the US population could benefit from orthodontic treatment and those who don’t, got dealt the right cards? Research data is showing that human physical characteristics at birth started a perceptible change in the 1980’s mixing with cultural changes that are resulting in increasing health issues and more expensive ways to remedy the situation. The answer to our nation’s health problem is right in front of us, the mirror. There is much to see when looking at a face and facing up to what you see. If the face develops properly then Mother Nature is your orthodontist and you really do deserve my compliment and you are the patient who can help us learn how to manage development. Remember what the Titanic would have avoided with the slightest change in course.

If we would pay more attention to the healthy, alert and productive as to how they reached that achievable potential and could interest and motivate those scoring less that 150 (forgive the deer analogy) to gain back the great potential of the body to heal itself, we would benefit beyond measure.

We can only reach our best health potential (aside from picking the right parents) by learning to:

  1. Breathe right (see the Nose Knows)
  2. Sleep right (avoid fragmentation)
  3. Eat right (no snacking on sugar)
  4. Move muscles.

It is a simple formula for being your personal best despite the genetic, cultural and environmental insults we contend with and overcome.

From our first breath, all of life and living depends on our next breath. How and what kind of air the lungs receive will determine how the face will develop over time. The amount of quality sleep depends on proper breathing and sleep breathing disorders begin in infancy and continue to worsen if parents are not observant. So, let’s face it, breathing right (exclusively through the nose} is the number one priority for normal facial development and restorative sleep. If you or your child tends toward mouth breathing especially during the night, we would be pleased to evaluate your situation and offer professional help to normalize the most fundamental function of life and ideal development.

Call (727) 822-3156 today for a courtesy appointment to receive vital information.

John B. Harrison DDS, MSc


The Gift of Christmas


“Hurry Up Offense” or “How much longer Doc”

harrison-hurry-up_209247019-800How many times do you think I have heard that sigh?  Sometimes it is a soon as the next appointment after getting braces installed, but sooner or later it is a guarantee comment even though we do our best to closely predict the best case scenario treatment time. If the time isn’t flying by, then apparently I’m the only one having fun.

We have written before on “hurry up orthodontics” regarding Propel, an interesting phenomenon of manual micro bone perforations between teeth to help them move faster. We numb the gums to where nothing is felt but pressure as I penetrate the gum with a very sharp hand drill to make tiny holes in the bone between teeth. It is an additional cost of a minimum $200 because the expendable equipment cost exactly that, but the procedure has made a difference with difficult tooth movements and shaving a few months off treatment. With an impending wedding or class reunion there is hope for finishing early.

A less invasive technology making orthodontic news is pulse vibration frequency technology.  Sensitivity to specific ranges of vibration cause biological responses including reducing pain enhancing tooth movement and adding retention stability. Oddly, there is controversy over whether high frequency or low frequency vibrations give the best response, but there will always be controversy in scientific experiments designed to sell profitable products. There were a lot of light bulbs invented before one lit up the room long enough to read the newspaper.

Two vibration devices are currently available, one low the other high frequency, each claiming testimonials which so much of the public relies on for decision making these days instead of insisting on independent arm’s length controlled studies. One must be used for 20 continuous minutes daily and the other 5 minutes so like all things orthodontic patient compliance and cooperation dictate success.  Pulse vibration may benefit teeth as it does sore muscles, aches and pains. The devices are bought separately from the orthodontic fee, not cheap and as with all things medically done to our body, there are responders and non-responders.

I grew up where the quarterback took time to make sure everybody in the huddle knew their assignments and routes before we lined up on offense. To hurry up just got you tired quicker in a game that always lasted 60 minutes. It is hard to know whether our teeth would rather move fast or slow or do we have fast teeth and slow teeth?

I don’t know how much longer- As Yogi Berra so accurately predicted: ‘It aint over till it’s over”

Tired Teenagers – Beating Their Ever Present Opponent – Fatigue

harrison-sleepy-teenager_124196230-smHonest to (St.) Pete, Kids are too tired these days, I see it every day, yet the folks that can do something about it are sleeping through the alarm clock and need to wake up and smell the caffeine our kids use to keep going.

I have blogged about sleep deprivation used by military interrogators as an improved torture technique over waterboarding to get delirious fantasy confessions from bad guys, but do we need those in authority over minors doing the same thing to good guys?  Hey, good guys matter too!

Our school kids are up too early and to bed too late, averaging about 6 hours of restless sleep which drains brain power about as fast as “white powder”.  By the time my own grandson gets home from school, athletic practice, takes a knee for a breather, eats dinner and is now ready to do all his IB homework (2+) hours, it is 9:00 PM with bed time mostly around midnight only to be up and atum at 6:00 AM. This is “Hell Week” every week, with crashing on the weekend to catch up on missed sleep that biologically cannot be caught up on. We treat our cell phones better than this, charging their batteries up 100% every night so that they work for us the next day. Our culture has gone nuts on performance but can’t get it that performance depends on SLEEP!  My 15-year-old grandson needs 8+ hours of sleep to stay alert and healthy not 6!

If super basketball champion LeBron James of the Cavaliers secret to success is sleeping 12 hours a day to recover from his strenuous training and withering schedule, DUH! there you have it. I “rest” my case. Coaches, Teachers, Principals, School Administrators, I hope you get it, sleep training is the way to win-win-win for everybody and it should be top priority. All studies show that athletic skills improve dramatically, injuries heal quicker and alertness on the field sharpens when sleep time is extended.

The same can be said for school performance, yet the kids stay up all night studying for a test, texting their buddies at 3:00AM while wearing ear phones tuned in to “rapsta noise”. Parents, where are you?

Who would have thought that the Coach of the Year is a Sleep Coach?  Get to bed, grandson!

John B. Harrison DDS, MSc