Improving Sleep for Children and Adults: A Dentist’s Surprising Method with Dr. Blaine Leeds

About this Episode

In one of our most fascinating episodes of the Brainy Moms podcast to date, dentist and author Dr. Blaine Leeds joins Dr. Amy and Teri to talk about a novel way to significantly improve the quality and quantity of sleep for children, teens, and adults. To our surprise, oral sleep apnea impedes restorative sleep, which experts are now determining to be the root cause of so many mental, emotional, and physical issues. Learn how a simple DIY device is revolutionizing not only how we treat common conditions, but also how we think about their root cause. From depression to high blood pressure to memory issues, Dr. Leeds shares some of the dramatic results he’s seeing in his practice and across the country. Tune in to hear more about a pioneering device and its potential in uprooting how we address and possibly prevent a multitude of common disorders, ailments, and even diseases.

About Dr. Blaine Leeds

Dr. Leeds is a practicing general dentist of 28 years licensed in 12 states. A graduate of the University of Tennessee Health Science Center with Honors, he was one of the first 177 general dentists certified to provide Invisalign treatment in 1997. He’s also an expert in sleep health and has coauthored the book, “What Happens When Your Child Doesn’t Sleep: Unlock the Secret to Happy, Healthy Children.” He is also an advisor to Toothpillow, a preventative, pre-orthodontic method that corrects and supports proper jaw development and promotes nasal breathing.

Connect with Dr. Leeds (to sign up for the newsletter and be notified when the book comes out) (for his private practice and to become a sleep appliance patient) (for information about the sleep appliance he talks about in this episode)

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Read the transcript for this episode:

DR. AMY:  Hi, smart moms and dads. Welcome to another episode of the Brainy Moms Podcast, brought to you today by LearningRx Cognitive Skills Training Centers. I’m your host, Dr. Amy Moore, and I am with my co-host, Teri Miller, and we are experiencing Snowmageddon right now in Colorado. So if you hear any glitchy talking, it’s probably because the snow fell on our satellite. But Teri and I are super excited to welcome our guest today, Dr. Blaine Leeds. Dr. Leeds is a practicing general dentist of 28 years, licensed in 12 states. He’s also an expert in sleep health and has coauthored the book, “What Happens When Your Child Doesn’t Sleep; Unlock the Secret to Happy, Healthy Children.” And today he is here to talk to us about something we can all relate to as parents, helping children get the sleep they need. Welcome, Dr. Leeds. 

BLAINE: Well, thanks for having me, you guys. I’m sorry you’re trapped in snow and Snowpocalypse up there. I’m in the deep south today in Arkansas near my hometown and it’s 72 and stormy. It’s the tornado alley season around here. So we hopefully will be safe this afternoon. It’s great to talk with you.

TERI: I have to say I would prefer the Snowmageddon over tornado storm. So yeah. Well, I’m just so glad that you’re here. And we like to start every episode by having our guests talk about how they got interested in the topic. And so for you in particular, sleep, this is so important. But it’s super interesting to me how as a dentist and why did you get interested in helping children get the sleep they need? 

BLAINE: Well, it started for me when I became a patient. I became a sleep apnea patient. My wife, speaking of tornadoes, could probably sleep through one. She’s a wonderful heavy sleeper and never has any sleep issues really at all. Could sleep almost anywhere for any length of time. You know, sleeps 10 hours a day. Probably requires it. Probably one of those people that needs it, you know. And I’m the opposite always have been the opposite. You know, 5 or 5 and a half hours is fine with me. Always an early riser, always a very light sleeper. If something bumped in the night, I probably woke up for a couple of hours and maybe got up and started working or make coffee, you know, one of those things. But my wife started hearing me struggle to breathe and she could hear me stop breathing, or snore for a long period of time and then stop breathing, which what many patients do, you know, when they’re trying to breathe through their mouths. And so, I went through the standard medical protocol. I went to, you know, I had friends that were family doctors, so I went to them, got a got a sleep study, you know, probably took a month, you know, to get in. And go to the polysomnography unit, the sleep center at my hospital. And I hope that I didn’t do strange things while these people watched me sleep and put the electrodes on and all that kind of stuff. And sure enough, stopped breathing, I think 91 times in the first hour and a half that I was laying there. And we see this often when we sleep test in our dental offices and sleep tests with our cool new methods now that are just sleep rings that people can wear on their finger and interact with the app on their phone. Now, you know, I think Watchpad even now has a disposable sleep study that a family can take home and everybody use it and then throw it away when they get done. But I became a patient and it was, and so then I started noticing all of the factors, you know, when I would do exams with my patients in the dental office and the regular old general dental office where people have their teeth cleaned and get crowns and root canals. And, you know, we’re here in Arkansas where I was at the time, you know, before I moved to Nashville, where, you know, you might be an hour and a half one way from the orthodontist or an hour and a half, one way from the oral surgeon. And people want to have everything done under one roof if they can. And they like their dentist. They want to stay there and have treatment. So I would be talking to these folks. I’m like, you know, I need to be more thorough with my care. And we started taking blood pressure. All of our hygienists started taking blood pressure on every patient. And, you know, if you’re a dentist or a health care provider, that’s a nice service to provide for people. Many people don’t have a blood pressure cuff in their home, and it’s one of the first things we do, right, when we take vital signs in the hospital or the ER. And so we started taking blood pressure on patients because that is a sign in adults, you know, is a, is what we used to term as Idiopathic hypertension, right? You know, strange blood pressure elevation for no apparent reason. “Oh, that’s probably your family line. You probably, you know, you’ve got a lot of high cholesterol. It’s probably just runs in the family. Let’s just start you on a beta blocker.” No, let’s not. Let’s look and see what’s causing, you know, your blood pressure elevation. And mine was elevated for the first time in my life. Nobody, everybody in my family had low blood pressure. My mom ate extra salt because, you know, she liked it and didn’t, it didn’t matter cause she had low blood pressure. So, for me, I became a patient. So, you know, I started modifying my practice to see all these dental signs and symptoms. And it’s, you know, treating adults with an oral sleep apnea appliance is one of the most gratifying, but one of the most challenging things we can do. But with children, it’s much more straightforward to treat because they’re still growing and developing. So we don’t have a fused palette where we have, if we want to expand the palette, you know, in adults, sometimes we have to do surgery, but we’re learning more and more that maybe we don’t have to do as much surgery as we thought. And you guys have some great providers, by the way, in the state of Colorado, right there where you are that can help, you know, with adults and with kids. And in fact, my favorite children’s appliance is made there in Colorado. But that’s my background. How I got involved. 

TERI: Here you go, DR. AMY.

DR. AMY: Yeah, here we go. So I was super fascinated, when I guess your PR people reached out to our PR people, that a dentist wanted to come on and talk about children’s sleep. And here’s why I was fascinated. Because my physician, every time I see him refers me to this dentist who specializes in sleep studies and they do the cat scan of your head and all of this stuff. And I look at my physician and go, “I would rather have a pap smear once a week than go to the dentist once a year.” Like, I do not like going to the dentist. And so, you know, it’s like pulling teeth to get me to get my regular cleanings because I don’t like going. Why would I want an extra visit, right, to the dentist? So I don’t understand the connection between seeing a dentist and my sleep. And so what are you looking for?  Tell me why I should come to a dentist to figure out what’s wrong with my sleep and why does it matter if my sleep is disturbed? 

BLAINE: Wow. A lot of questions in there. Number one, don’t feel like the Lone Ranger because you don’t want to go to the dentist. How terrible is my profession at marketing and pain control and spa treatment that we can’t, you know, in 2024, we’ve still got people who don’t want to go at all. Right? And it’s, you know, we got to, we got to get better at that in my profession. But really, to answer your question, pretty simply, it’s because humans are obligate nasal breathers. We’re supposed to be breathing through our nose all the time. One of my colleagues, Kevin Goles, from there in Colorado says, you know, “breathing through your mouth all the time is almost as efficient as eating with your nose.” I mean, you wouldn’t eat with your nose. You shouldn’t be breathing through your mouth. And so most human beings should be breathing through their nose 100 percent of the time, effortlessly, quietly, easily through their nose. And one of the big causes of improper nasal breathing or sleep-obstructed breathing is underdeveloped jaws. And that’s the connection between medicine and dentistry, which doesn’t get taught in medical school and doesn’t get taught in dental school. Everybody I know that’s an elite clinician in this world, realm in dentistry, learned it after they got out of dental school or they stumbled across it like I did because they became a patient. And then they started thinking, “Wait a minute, I’m just blasting air up someone’s nose. Why am I, you know, with a CPAP. How’s that helping anything?” Well, it helps them breathe tonight if they get the machine on and they can tolerate it, which only four in 10 patients can. But the other thing is that, you know, if you’re just treating a sign or symptom of the greater problem, which is when a child leaves the incubator, what does every one of them go home with as soon as you take them out of the incubator, or even in the incubator?

TERI: What? Mom.

DR. AMY: Pacifier?

BLAINE: Pacifier. So when we, when a child sucks on a pacifier, these facial muscles go in and it’s an appliance. And we start moving baby molars together before they even leave the hospital. And when the baby molars moved together, the palate arches and the palate is the floor of the airway space. So instead of having a big broad airway space with the molars big and wide and a big healthy spaced-out smile, many of these kids start or even if they have a finger- or thumb-sucking issue, it fits right up in the palate. And so when we have an arched palate, we have difficulty breathing through the nose. And when patients aren’t breathing through their nose, they’re not getting nitric oxide into the system. And there’s a little sensor back in your oropharynx around the pair of sinuses. When we breathe through our nose, that secretion happens. The nitric oxide gets in the blood. It’s the body’s own natural vasodilator. So we have the vasculature opening up. We have oxygenated blood going to the brain, to the heart, to the muscles. So we will see children that aren’t sleeping well and we will put a simple appliance in their mouth, replace their woobie with a little oral appliance that helps keep their cheeks and facial muscles off the dental alveolus and the baby teeth, and also puts the tongue up in the palate where it belongs, which is the body’s natural palatal expander. The tongue is, what you always heard, one of the strongest muscles in the body, right? So if it can’t get to the roof of the mouth, in other words, God forbid baby has a tongue tie. Which one of my favorite stories is one of my partners in a in a business is a dentist who had a tongue tie and she didn’t know till she was 37 years old and we were treating this stuff together and her father was a dentist. Her mother was a dentist. And they didn’t know she had a tongue tie, and she’s 37. So, you know, it can happen, it can go undiagnosed. But if the tongue is, we have ankyloglossia, right? If we have connective tissue holding the tongue to the floor of the mouth, it cannot get into the palate. And so therefore, those patients tend to have narrower palates. And so, that’s the connection. Underdeveloped jaws, also caused by a soft diet. And mom having to get back to work sooner and not breastfeeding as long. Interestingly, in Sub-Saharan Africa, where, you know, there’s food insecurity and moms are taking care of their kids all the way to age 4 or 5 with breastfeeding, only a five percent incidence of sleep apnea in Sub-Saharan Africa. Because breastfeeding is more of a biting or chewing motion than it is a suckling motion. And so it toughens the gums, it widens the dental alveolus for a baby before their teeth come in. And when we have the right foundation for everything, we’ve got room for all of our teeth.

There’s an anthropologist named Robert Corruccini, who did a bunch of studies, went back and looked at skulls for thousands of years. And early on, we had an early man had all 32 teeth. You know, that used to be one of my things I used to say, you know, “When I get to heaven, I’m going to ask two things: Why don’t we have ticks and why do we have wisdom teeth?” You know, cause we’re taking out the wisdom teeth. I mean, what are, what are ticks for? I mean, I guess for the chickens to eat. I mean, what are, why do we have, you know, these parasites? Why do we need these things? But now we know that we have wisdom teeth because we’re supposed to have them all in our mouth and we’re supposed to have 32 teeth. And when our jaws are too narrow, the wisdom teeth begin developing at 16, 17, 18 years old. And they’re impacted, which just means they can’t come on the right path to eruption. And so when I look at all these orthodontic patients every day, and I’m treating this little sissy crowding, cause Sally left her retainer at the Cayo House when she was 22. And she did that extra gap year. And she stayed at Auburn for one more year. And then, you know, now she’s dropping her kids to school and she’s like, “Holy smoke.” She’s looking in the mirror and “I’ve got two teeth. Man, I want that tooth rotated.” And why are her teeth crowding? Or why did she have braces and then her teeth crowd again? Because she didn’t, you know, she didn’t wear a retainer. Why won’t her teeth stay in the right spot? Well, the reason is, is because the orthodontists aren’t taught about this either, many of them. They’re starting to do it now, starting to teach some airway in these orthodontic residencies now, but the orthodontists have always been focused on “Let’s straighten the teeth. Let’s close down space.” And so many times that patient has space because their tongue is pressing forward against their palate, right? And so it’s creating space between their teeth, but it’s space that they need to breathe properly so that their airway space is open. So that kind of ties together, you know, the reasons that why would, you know, why would a dentist ever care about my sleep? And that’s why. And so basically I’m on this mission to get everybody expanded to a bigger, wider smile, you know, where they got room for their teeth. And if they’ve got space and they don’t want space, then we’ll put some beautiful, you know, contact-lens-thin porcelain veneers on there like everybody has, you know, Catherine Zeta and Brad Pitt and all those people have. And we’ll, you know, we’ll make them look pretty, but we’ll have space. We’ll have the molars the right distance apart. 

DR. AMY: I have four messages from Dr. Goles. I might want to call him back. 

BLAINE: Yeah. 

TERI: I mean, but DR. AMY, don’t you literally feel like——

BLAINE: And he’s a nice guy too.

TERI: Who knew? Like I’m literally, I’m just astounded. Everything you said, it makes absolute sense.

DR. AMY: Why don’t we know this stuff?

TERI: Right!

BLAINE: Let me tell you who doesn’t know. I was working in Manhattan and I thought I was going to be working there the rest of my life with lovely dentist friend of mine, Dr. Barry Chase, who’s been treating sleep issues in Manhattan for 32 years. He has nine different locations in Manhattan and Long Island. And I thought it was going to be there for, you know, a long, long time. But we had a major teaching hospital, a pediatric teaching hospital that wanted Dr. Chase and I to come and the head of the hospital, the pediatrician that was a PhD, MD, CEO of the hospital was going to have a lunch and learn with all 600 of their doctors, every one of their team members that could, you know, could leave the ICU and the critical care unit and come listen, because she was today years old, you know, when she found out that, “Wait a minute. There’s a connection between oral health and … How do we not know this?” And she wanted us to kind of explain that situation to everybody. And it’s just one of those things that, you know, we have dental school, we have podiatry school, we have medical school, we have law school and accounting and, you know, CPA fellowships and whatnot. So, you know, they only teach about, they only spend about two hours of time total, not credit hours, but two hours of time total in most medical curricula across the country studying sleep. And now we’re learning that 70 to 80 percent of health issues, all wellness issues, 70 to 80 percent are related to sleep, sleep problems. And I was at a meeting in Philadelphia in May, and there was a medical researcher from a university in Canada, quoting a seven-child study that they had done, seven total participants in the study, talking about, you know, “sleep apnea may not even exist in children. We’re not even really sure that it does, and they’ll probably grow out of it. You know, it’s their skull cavity and they’ll grow larger. And maybe it really doesn’t even exist.” And one of my colleagues who, we didn’t travel there together, but she and I worked together in a different company, he got up and left. She was appalled. I mean, she has personally treated over 300 children from the ages of 2 to 9 in the last two and a half to three years. And you cannot believe the results. I mean, it’s just it’s amazing the things that these kids are doing and how they’re improving and how much better they’re feeling. And it changes these parents’ lives. I mean, from symptoms from just, you know, “My son, Timmy drools all the time. Why does he drool? I’ve been to five ENTs. They can’t tell me why he’s drooling.” You know, all the way to ADHD, bedwetting, you know, all kinds of issues like that, that are turns out related to crowded teeth, underdeveloped jaws, and poor nasal breathing. 

TERI: This is so huge. And the thing about pacifiers early on, like DR. AMY, how are we, how can we make the title of this podcast really compelling so we really get people to listen to this? Cause thinking about new moms and it would never have occurred to me, but everything you’re saying makes sense. And I literally am thinking about my kids, like my 19-year-old son that has such a problem with snoring and doing that, like waking up, not breathing thing. And he was a thumbsucker. I could not get him to stop. Like we would tape it for so long. And then when he had braces, again, really high palate, really narrow jaw. I mean, everything you’re saying makes absolute sense. What we’re talking about is getting him an appliance that pulls his jaw forward. So talk about that. Talk about interventions for maybe young adults, adults that are struggling with this appliance.

BLAINE: Well, you two ladies are lucky because when Snowmageddon ends and it melts a little bit, you can go see Kevin Goles because he’s one of the top five people in the country that treats this. He treats it every day. He’s gotten so busy that now his whole clinical time is devoted to this, this issue with adults and with children. And then he has a whole restorative dental clinic as well. But I mean, so lucky you, you’re right there close by. And so the appliances that you’re talking about making for your son, you know, is it’s a mandibular advancement appliance, because the tongue is attached to the mandible with muscles and connective tissue. So when we move our mandibles forward with an appliance, it opens the jaw, you know, and it opens the airway and it does work. But again, It’s treating the symptom, which is the tongue falling back in the airway. You know, when someone opens their mouth, sometimes mouth taping will help patients even tonight. You know, people say, “Gosh, is that, that’s that seems weird. Should I tape my mouth?” Well, sure you should, if your mouth’s falling open all the time and try taping it vertically so that you got a little bit of crease here on either side, where you can breathe through your mouth. If you happen to have a nasal polyp or some sort of other obstruction. But you know, your son’s no different than another a hundred thousand orthodontic patients that I’ve seen that he’s had braces. He probably had a tongue rake when he was a kid because of his, his thumb sucking, you probably put salsa on it and all kinds of things to try to, and I’ve had, I’ve had them put salsa and hot sauce. These kids love it. They love the hot sauce. They just like put some more Tabasco on here. I, you know, they’re not going to stop. And, and guess what? When their teeth are in the right spot and their palate is expanded properly, there’s no room for that tongue rake, thumb or finger to get in there anymore and their tongue can get where it belongs and you can’t have the tongue and a thumb occupying the same space. So the treatment is all the same, you know, even if, even if he’s 19, you know, go see Kevin and get back into clear liners and get, and get him widened out and, and his airway will open. And, you know, Kevin has done things like, he treats patients with, a Fatana laser, which I have as well. And it, and sometimes just lasering the palate with some mild low wavelength laser can tighten and stretch the palatal soft palate tissue. And he has taken a patient from, you know, really, really high apnea readings down to effectively zero with just some laser treatments over a four-to-six week period. And those patients will feel better that night. They’ll sleep better the same night. So. most of America, you know, I look at hundreds and hundreds of thousands of sets of photographs and, and 3D scans, you know, in a year’s time, and almost everybody, myself included, I mean, I need expansion. I’m working on it. And so, you know, almost everybody had their, their molars are too close together. And so if we’ve got a patient who’s still snoring, you know, make sure there’s no kind of airway blockage and then let’s try to figure out how to get their molars the right distance apart. And it may create some space and you need to tell, you know, all those providers out there, listen, tell, make sure and tell the patient you’re gonna have some space and we get done. But that’s just an aesthetic concern that we can clean up. And once we have everything in the right spot, you know, you’re going to function better and feel better. And we’re treating the cause, the root cause of the problem, not a sign or symptom. 

DR. AMY: Yeah, so we talk all the time on this show. Teri is passionate about sleep and sleep hygiene. And I talk all the time, especially in my ADHD coaching, the importance of sleep and how sleep actually is like putting your brain through a car wash, right? Like it releases that cerebrospinal fluid that cleanses the brain of the toxins that build up during the day because our neurotransmitters, once they die, they leave off, you know, leave out toxins. And there’s some really cool research of beta DR. AMYloid plaques building up during the day. And sleep is actually when it releases that cerebrospinal fluid, it actually helps cleanse that. So those people who are following the dementia and Alzheimer’s research, right? I mean, this is lifespan, lifespan benefits. And I’m just saying this for those listeners who might not have heard us talk about sleep before. So we know it’s super critical just for thinking and cognition. But talk about some other reasons why we should advocate for restorative sleep for children.

TERI: Prioritize, force, make. No kidding. Just kidding. That’s the hard thing. We can’t make our kids sleep. So what are the reasons why? 

BLAINE: Well, because you want them to thrive and you want them to feel, feel better and you want them to be the happy, healthy kiddo that they’re supposed to be. And, and that’s, that’s the only reason to do it. Cause we love them, you know, and we want them to be, you know, go to school every day, bouncing out the door, excited about being there and having the day they’re supposed to have. And that’s, you know, that’s, that’s my whole motivation for talking to you guys right now. You know, is, is once I learned that I was treating adults, you know, and then I saw, “Wow, you’re telling me that we have a stock appliance that doesn’t have to be custom fit, that one of these two appliances will fit almost every child from ages two to nine, you know, and we can help a lot of them in three to six months and get them on the right path. And that’s all the treatment we have to do?” Some of them, we treat them all the way until they’re 14. Some of them still need braces or clear liners, but boy, is their case easy and short. When we get them expanded when they’re little. But you know, you just want to, you just want to be a good parent, right? That’s the, that’s the way to do it. Because you want to, you want to make sure that your kids have the healthiest brain and muscles and body that they can and and grow and be as successful as a human being, as they can on this short little time we have on this planet. 

TERI: So, DR. AMY, what I’m going along with what he’s saying, DR. AMY, what you’re talking about is this isn’t, this isn’t just for kids. We’re talking about, we’re giving our kids a basis for lifelong benefits in their mental health, their cognitive processes. I mean, that’s this is huge. This is so important.

DR. AMY: Right? I mean, we can’t consolidate memories if we don’t sleep, right? Like we can’t regulate our emotions if we don’t sleep. I mean, our immune system is suppressed if we don’t sleep, right? There are so many implications to non-restorative sleep or when we’re not getting enough sleep. And a lot of, you know, neurodevelopmental disorders come with a sleep challenge, right? And so, what, if there’s a way to take some of the burden off of that, why wouldn’t we want to do that?

TERI: And chicken or the egg. Maybe some of those, the neurodevelopmental disorders, maybe they are there because this kid started having sleep disorders at age 18.

DR. AMY: So it’s presenting, right, as ADHD that we don’t know, like we just assume that the etiology is birth trauma or, you know, exposure to toxins, but maybe it’s nonrestorative sleep because their palate is too high or there’s not enough space or they’re not breathing. I mean, my mind is blown right now, Dr. Leeds.

TERI: Same here.

BLAINE: Well, I mean, you gals, you gals just did your own podcast and you did your own podcast summary right there. You didn’t even need me here. You know, you put all the pieces together. I mean, we’re not, well, that’s okay. I mean, I love it. I mean, we’re, we’re getting, you know, we’re not getting oxygen to the brain. Right. And it’s surprising how long, but it’s not really about the oxygen as much as it is about the restorative sleep. Because surprisingly, your brain can survive a long time with limited oxygen; a lot longer than we think. But it’s, it’s your musculature, your, you know, the bones, everything. The restorative sleep is so important. We need two REM cycles a night at least. And, and nobody’s getting it. You know, when’s the last time that you had a dream?  I mean, if you’re not dreaming, you know, you’re, you’ve got fragmented sleep, right? If you’re never getting to the REM sleep, you know, that’s a problem.

DR. AMY: So I wouldn’t have thought about it that way. At all. Like I can’t remember the last time I dreamed. 

TERI: Yeah. I don’t. Yeah. I don’t remember a lot of my dreams, but I do, but I like, I’ll know that I’ll have like a snippet and be like, “Oh yeah, that was weird.” You know, like, but okay. I want to take it back now. So, okay. Our minds are blown. So our listeners are going, “Oh my goodness. I had no idea. What the heck do I do now?” Okay. So I’ve, let’s say, for example, you know, I’ve got a kid that’s 7 or 10 and they are displaying all kinds of maybe cognitive struggles or behavior struggles. And I’m suspecting that they’re not sleeping well. What do I do with my school-aged kid? Where do I go?

DR. AMY: Because I can’t imagine that this is mainstream yet. Right? I mean, you guys are like rare.

BLAINE: Well, this is, this is why we’re talking because everybody that I’ve ever tried to work with on this and create some sort of a way to treat large numbers of children at a time or through, you know, direct to consumer digital means, since we have the internet, you know, the problem is, it’s an education problem, right? You have the doctors and the dentists don’t know about it. So they’re not talking to their patients about it. And also the drugs that are used to treat some of the signs and symptoms of the problem are being sold in such a way that the people who make those drugs and sell them don’t really want people or care people know this or not because it affects their bottom line, if you will. So somebody’s got to tell the story. So that’s why we’re talking today. That’s why Bryan Ferre and I wrote a book. That’s why, I got with another group of doctors and formed a company called Toothpillow that launched in 2022. I think we just, put our 1573rd patient into treatment this week. It’s all in an app. All you do is go to, download the app. You upload some photos of your child and we have a very detailed survey that the parents fill out and basically, you know, I’m ready to start treatment on a child. It takes like two or three boxes, you know, and what we call “unicorns” in our world are, are little kiddos that have lots of space between their baby teeth. Right. So it brings us to an interesting question. What are the signs and symptoms of this problem? Right? How do we, how do we catch it early?  Well, I want to, I used to tell parents that had little kiddos, “Well, if you don’t want to go to the pediatric dentist, you know, whenever they’re four or five, unless you see some sort of a really big problem, you know, it’s okay, you know, help them brush at home and we’ll see them when we need to see them.” Bad advice, Dr. Leeds. In 2024, when your child has. It starts to reach age one or one and a half, definitely by two, they should at least maybe have a go to the dentist to see it’s not a scary place, sort of a visit. Even if they’re just there for a little bit and they get a stuffed animal or they meet some people and then they leave, you know, that’s fine. But I want to see, I want to see that child’s teeth when they’re two. Because I want to, I can tell by looking at just a couple of photographs of their teeth, what the line angles are on their teeth. I can tell if they have a tongue tie or not. And I want to, so what do we want to see in a perfect set of primary dentition? A 2-year-old child that has all their baby molars and all their baby incisors in the mouth. What we want to see is space. We want to see about the width of a 10-cent coin, a U. S. dime in between each tooth all the way around. I used to have moms come to me and say, “Oh, look at little Tommy. He’s got such straight teeth and they’re all jammed together and they look perfect.” And I’d be like, “Yeah, this is not good, Mom, because Tommy’s got teeth that are this much bigger, you know, than the ones that are in there now. And they’re going to be fighting for space here pretty soon.” And I used to think, OK, well, and I was taught, you know, by my orthodontic Growth and development experts and people that were, you know, helping us do my favorite palindrome in all of dentistry, which is refer That’s how they teach you to treat orthodontics and dental school is refer it all of it. Don’t don’t do it. Just refer it.  And, you know, we found out now that, I mean, I was, I think I was the 177th dentist certified to do Invisalign in 1997. So we’ve been doing it a long time. And guess what? Dentists understand a lot about how teeth fit together, how the peaks hit the valleys on the opposing teeth and we have to help those patients chew and function after the orthodontist straightens everything up. And the orthodontist know about that too. But it’s, you know, we want to think about this early and used to, we were taught, “Well, wait till there’s eight, nine, 10 years old when they start losing teeth, we’ll send them the orthodontist and we’ll see what they say.” And then, you know, or wait till their six-year molars are in, because we really can’t do any kind of a, an appliance that they’ll tolerate until then. All of that is, is not true. We know now at age two, if someone needs an appliance, they can start maybe their treatments over in three to six months because they get space like we want it. And then we can just monitor them for a while, you know, get in and get out and do it early. But here are the signs and symptoms. Baby teeth that are jammed together or crowded if they’re overlapped or we’ve got a cross bite where the upper teeth are inside the lower teeth. You know, that’s problematic. And also we have children sometimes that have a massive under bite, right? Almost all their lower teeth are outside the periphery of their upper teeth. We can fix this on a small child. We can jump this what we call “jump the cross bite” and put the maxillary teeth outside the mandibular teeth where they belong with a simple appliance if the child will be compliant to wear it. And so, you know, that saves that child a $40,000 surgery to have their mandible split and their maxilla moved around when they’re 17 18 20 years old. And so, you know, it’s just like every, you know, medical or dental treatment. It’s, it’s always about the prevention, right? Let’s catch it early. Let’s get them in an appliance. Let’s monitor things. Let’s do mild functional therapy, which is as important as any aspect of what we do, you know, with these appliances. It’s just a part of the process, the appliance. There’s also, you know, mild functional therapy, which is someone who’s a hygienist or a dentist who’s been trained even beyond their regular training to learn how to teach patients where their tongue belongs, do exercises with them, so that they can train their facial muscles and their muscles in and around their tongue to perform and get to the right spot in the oral cavity where they belong.

DR. AMY: I mean, so this is like no different than a child needing glasses, right? Like, it seems so simple.

BLAINE: I know, but we get in a pattern of how we do things. And it’s just very hard to break convention, you know, once you, once you get there.

DR. AMY: Right. “Science advances, one funeral at a time,” right?  

BLAINE: I’m afraid so. Sometimes, you know …

TERI: Yeah. And people just, yeah, with people just not knowing. And then I think another piece of the puzzle, and I’m going to say what you may not want me to say, but I bet our listeners are wondering. So if this is a hard thing to come by because people just don’t know, and it makes sense, they’re not, they’re going to go to their dentist or whatever. Nobody’s got a sleep study. They’re not going to know where to go. The pediatrician is going to be like, “What are you talking about? That sounds like snake oil.” And I bet there, I bet nothing is covered by insurance. 

BLAINE: Well, no, that’s not true. I mean, some, some dental insurances have an orthodontic rider, you know, that’s a part of it. A lot of times we’ll advise the patients and families to keep that in case they do need Invisalign or braces later on, because a lot of times the, you know, the payout on those is not anywhere near what the cost of their orthodontics is, but every little bit helps, right? So, but it’s really up to the family and the doctor that’s offering the treatment at a young age, because if they can put that money toward getting the foundation right, they may not need braces at all someday. Because we, we have that happen. We certainly don’t make that promise, you know, to every patient that we put one of these appliances in, or start the process because again, I need to emphasize it’s more than just the appliance. It’s the appliance. It’s a sleep environment. It’s a diet exercise, making sure we’re not eating too much caffeine or sugar after, you know, noon, you know, in the daytime and not too much sugar at all. Because, you know, DR. AMY was mentioning how, you know, the brain gets clogged with all this stuff later on in life and sugar is part of it.

DR. AMY: Inflammation

BLAINE: Yes. Inflammation. It’s like, what do they call it now? Diabetes type three is what they’re calling dementia now because it’s too much sugar and carbohydrate consumption. And still I open the gosh dang food pyramid and it’s still, you know, it’s gotta be flipped upside down and, you know,  with diabetes association diet. It’s an absolute joke. They’re telling these people, we’ll just eat a little banana-nut muffin every few hours. These people don’t, they don’t need, they don’t need a carbohydrate in their pantry anywhere. You know, and, and it’s, you know, we’ve got people that are just allergic to sugar out there cause there’s so much processed crap that we’re eating. And, I mean, I am a big Mark Hyman disciple. I mean, foods are medicine. I mean, just, you know, make yourself a smoothie and, you know, get on with your life. You know, let’s not and it’s, and for a Southern boy, I mean, it’s on my tombstone it’s going to say “Here lies Dr. Leeds, dead of biscuits,” right? Because I am, I have never walked past a biscuit very, very often.  Anyway, but it’s, you know, so I’m going to make some gluten-free biscuits. That’s what I’ll do.

TERI: Yeah. There you go.

DR. AMY: So we’re Southern girls. We both are. And so we get it. But we also make them gluten free too. I’m Celiac so I have to. But gluten binds to neurons, keeps us from functioning cognitively, effectively. 

BLAINE: Absolutely. Makes my nose drip every day. I mean, you know, you used to think, “Why is my nose running after I eat, you know, a wonder bread hamburger bun? Why is that?” Sorry. Wonder bread. Yeah. I’m picking on Wonder Bread. I’ll pick on another one. Nature’s Grains or whatever, you know, whatever that is. That’s just as bad, you know, look on there and it’s full of, you know, agave nectar. Okay. All right. We’re going to, you know, we’re going to put stuff in there, but anyway. Have you guys seen this, these things called better bagel, better bun? Have you seen these things? 

TERI: What is that?

BLAINE: Look, look it up. It’s pretty interesting. If you want to, if you’re gluten-free person or want to, you know, just want to eat healthier. They take some of the almost like whey protein isolate and they make it anyway, they make bagels and hamburger buns that are, they have the same carbs as a piece of celery, so like one gram, and they have 25 grams of protein. It’s pretty cool.

TERI: Wow.

DR. AMY: Yeah, so there’s the Carbo Naut brand, Carbo N A U T, and they do the same thing.

BLAINE: Gotcha.

DR. AMY: Which is fascinating.

BLAINE: I need to write that down.

DR. AMY: Carbo Naut. They do bread, tortillas …

BLAINE: Uh oh.

DR. AMY: Right. So I can make a two-carb quesadilla.


DR. AMY: Mm-Hmm.

TERI: I need to look this up.

BLAINE: What time is dinner? I mean, I think there’s a single segment from, right from northwest Arkansas to Denver. I mean, I can …

DR. AMY: Okay. So talk to us about your book. 

BLAINE: Again, who’s telling the story, right? And Bryan Ferre, and I needed to tell it. Bryan’s wife tragically passed away eight and a half years ago due to sleep apnea complications. She had two CPAP machines wrapped up in the plastic underneath her bed.  She was, had all kinds of anxiety and depression issues and taking a lot of big-time pharmaceutical pain relief and doubling dosing and doing all that kind of stuff and not getting any help. And it’s really sad. So Bryan was working with the Vivos Corporation there in Colorado, and we met and he basically devoted his life to evangelizing about this problem after losing a loved one to it.  And so he and I were like, you know, we got to tell the story and we need to talk about the kids because there’s a lot more certainty and treatment if we can get them growing properly. And so that’s how the book came about. I wish I could put one in your hands, but it’s still delayed. We’ve been, we were supposed to have it out in November the 30th. And so here we are, and it’s, you know, March Madness time and we don’t have it out. 

DR. AMY: Well, we’ll look forward to being able to pass that link on to our listeners once it does get released.

BLAINE: Thank you. Happy to share it with you.

DR. AMY: All right. Why haven’t we talked about that you feel like we still need to. 

BLAINE: Oh, I think we’ve covered a lot today and there’s a lot of stuff to think about. But you know, I would say that the number one thing that I try to close almost every podcast with, if we don’t cover it is, you know, do the things that you guys are doing. Be an advocate for yourself. Because in this crazy mixed-up world of medicine and prescriptions, I mean, don’t get me started on, I mean, I want to use my little local pharmacy here and I have a prescription that I call in and well, if we lose over 20 on that, we quit carrying. I mean, you can’t even get the medicines that you need. My friends who have, who are retirees and now have Medicare are saying things like, “Oh, well, all they’ll provide me is the generic and it makes me nauseated.” And I mean, so be an advocate for yourself. And, you know, these doctors that are out there, they put their pants on just like me and you do every day. I know some of these people that went to med school when I went to dental school and, you know, it’s just watch out for yourselves and your family, and don’t be afraid to have a doctor explain something to you another time, or if you hear something that, you know, has feathers and webbed feet and quacks, like, you know, check it out, make sure, make sure that everything, and don’t be afraid to get a second opinion. You know, because, you know, what we’re talking about today, some of these things that are mind blowing to you guys, isn’t it amazing? Like when you have a medical problem and you have, you kind of suspect that maybe the diagnosis is not correct and you, and maybe you go to another provider and then you go to a third one. And then somebody says, well, you need to go see Dr. So and So because he’s like a skin specialist and dah, dah, dah, dah, dah. And you go to that person, it’s just like flipping on a light switch. It’s like, they completely understand. And so it’s, it’s really … it’s really not about what we know. It’s who we know, right? Get to the right providers and advocate for yourself and, and, you know, and move, move your body around because moving helps your sleep a lot, you know, even if it’s just a 30 minute walk every day. But advocate for yourself and watch out for yourself and take care of yourself. That’s what I’d do, I’d say to wrap it up. 

DR. AMY: Yeah, this was incredible. What a great conversation.

BLAINE: Well, thank you.

TERI: We do need to hear a word from our sponsor.

DR. AMY: Oh, we do need to hear a word from our sponsor. So let’s do that before we say goodbye. Teri, let’s hear a success story from LearningRx. 

TERI: Throughout her life, Aubrey’s doctors had told her that she had cognitive issues, which affected her academic performance, confidence, and socialization. Her mom says, we spent so many evenings at the kitchen table with her crying and her friends out playing and her not being able to because she had so much homework. Her mom enrolled Aubrey in LearningRx, an intervention designed to target and strengthen cognitive skills. Soon, Aubrey was no longer bringing homework home because she’d completed it at school. Her test anxiety practically went away, and her mom says that now Aubrey is thriving. I now feel like I have a place, says the teen. I always had one, I just couldn’t find it until LearningRx. While your child may or may not achieve these same results, LearningRX would be happy to work with you to get answers about your child’s struggles with learning. Get started at or head to our show notes for links to more helpful resources.

DR. AMY: Okay.  So Dr. Leeds, you said that we can go to Is that correct?

BLAINE: Yeah. And to be fair, there are three or four other companies that provide appliances and processes to help kids with this. Myobrace is one of them. And in full disclosure, I’m an advisor to Toothpillow. So I treat patients through that platform, but Myobrace, we use some of their products sometimes with some of our kids. Healthy Start is in Chicago. They make appliances that are similar. There’s three or four other companies that may do it. But I like, I like Toothpillow because it’s a Vivos appliance right there in Colorado. And it’s, I like the consistency of the appliance. It has just the right amount of softness and toughness so the child can really function in it, into the appliance and not damage it.  And it, and it really gets good results. And so that’s, that’s my, you know, premium choice for that, but yeah, you can go to and you can see my, I have a lot, lot bigger head of hair on my videos on. I needed, I needed a good salon trip before they shot it. They didn’t tell me they’re shooting the video, you know, they’re like, come on down. So anyway, I was a little shaggy. Like I was going to be in a Colorado snowstorm, you know, like I’m out. That’s what I look like a mountain man. Anyway, but you can find me on there and all these other great providers like Kevin Goles from Colorado and Ben Moralia, who is like the whole reason I’m a part of all of this and one of the guys that I respect the most in this industry and Dr. Callie Hale, who’s down in Houston, Texas, and just a real go getter and treating a lot of patients and helping a lot of people.

DR. AMY: All right. So just to clarify, you don’t have to do this through your own child’s dentist. You can go to one of these companies through their website and you’re treated virtually?

BLAINE: Well, either that or they’ll link you to a local provider in your area. But we do both. We have providers in almost every state, but I’m licensed in 12 states. So Colorado is not one of them, but you don’t need me because you have Dr. Kevin Goles there as we keep, we keep bragging on. Somewhere his head is swelling. You know, it was like, he’s not sure what’s happening. You know, he’s … I feel a disturbance in the force. Yeah. Anyway, but yeah, the correct answer is yes. So you can receive treatment if you’re in one of my states where I’m licensed, you can have treatment for me today. You can go in there and submit your photos and, and we’ll get, we’ll get on it. Ashley and my helpers at Toothpillow, we’ve got a team of like 30 people and we’re seeing these cases. You can see the follow them on Instagram. You know on Toothpillow. Look at all the cases that we’re shipping out. There’s a wonderful mom’s Facebook group, too. People that have been through the treatment moms whose kids are grown now that have had the treatment. Lots of advice and it’s a you know invite-only type group, but there’s I think there’s over 1,200 people that are a part of it now and they’re and they’re asking a lot of good questions and learning a lot together. And so, yeah, but that’s if I had a 4-year-old that was having issues or a child that got sent to the counter at school because their behavior, you know, I would look into Toothpillow before I, you know, went and got stimulants for my child. And, you know, not that, not that they don’t need them. Some kids definitely do, but, you know, let’s, let’s rule out a sleep problem first. 

DR. AMY: Absolutely.  All right.

TERI: This is amazing. So amazing.

DR. AMY: Mind blown. Such a great hour with you, Dr. Leeds. Thank you so much for being with us. We will put all of those links that Dr. Leeds mentioned. And then your website for your book is and people can sign up for your newsletter or to be notified when your book comes out. Is that right?

BLAINE: That’s right. Yeah. And if you, in my clinical pages where my I’m developing, I’m reopening an office in my hometown in Arkansas, it’s, it’s So you can go there and get the same information and follow links. And you can come see me in Arkansas if you want to. I’m fine if you want to do that.

DR. AMY: Field trip.

BLAINE: That’s right. Hey, plane tickets are cheaper than a fancy crown and bridge sometimes. Who knows, you know?

TERI: Or losing sleep and developing, you know, age-related dementia when you don’t need to.

DR. AMY: Absolutely.

BLAINE: Come to the Ozark mountains, go see the Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas.  It’s a wonderful place to visit.

DR. AMY: Sounds amazing. All right. Thank you so much for being with us today, listeners. If you like us, please follow us on Instagram at the Brainy Moms. If you’d rather see our faces, you can find us on YouTube.  And if you love our show, we would love it. If you would rate us on Apple podcasts. So look, this is all the smart stuff that we have for you today. We’re going to catch you next time.

TERI: See ya.