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As children grow, healthy breathing is integral to their good health. Airway evaluation can help detect and correct problems that can interfere with a child’s developmental milestones. Diagnosis and treatment of pediatric airway issues has become a passion of Dr. Wilson’s. If you’re concerned about your child’s behavior or sleeping patterns, get in touch with McCulloch-Wilson Dental today.
Good nutrition, muscle function, and being able to breathe properly are all influence facial development as children grow. Some of the most common facial abnormalities in kids are caused by a compromised airway or inability to breathe easily through the nose, which can not only affect a child’s physical and mental health, but the way their facial features develop and their appearance as they become adults.
The tongue’s position in the lower jaw can make breathing through the mouth easier, which causes the lower jaw to grow more vertically, making the face to appear longer. This process hinders nasal breathing, stunting development of the upper jaw and mid-facial bones and throwing off the child’s overall facial balance. What does it take to help a child’s facial bones develop as they should? The natural growth stimulant provided by abundant air flow through the nose.
A malformed upper jaw also affects the shape of the eye sockets and nasal airways, which can result in septum, asymmetrical noses, snoring, and sleep apnea. An underdeveloped jaw can cause forward head posture, which opens the airways but throws off healthy alignment of the spine, leading to headaches, teeth grinding (bruxism), fatigue, and tension in the head and neck. Dr. Wilson’s goal is to work with the natural growth of your child’s face, so she will assess your child’s jaw development, facial harmony, breathing, and oral habits to formulate the right treatment plan to get healthy oxygen flowing.
Enlarged adenoids and tonsils are the single most common cause of airway compromise in children. The most current research shows that tonsils and adenoids boost the immune system and protect the body from disease for the first two years of life, but after that age, children can function without them.
Sleep is a physiological drive that is an essential component of healthy child development. Pediatric sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is a term that applies to all breathing difficulties that occur during sleep, ranging from loud snoring to obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a condition where part or all of the airway is blocked during sleep.
When a child’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, the body responds by increasing heart rate and blood pressure and waking up the brain. Oxygen levels in the blood can also drop. About 10% of kids snore regularly, while 2-4% experience OSA. Recent studies have shown that even mild forms of SDB cause many of the same problems as full-blown OSA.
Pediatric sleep apnea can be caused by facial structure that narrows the airway, or certain medical conditions that affect the muscles, such as cerebral palsy. Other risk factors include obesity, family history, and even low birth weight. If your child seems tired all the time and is acting out, get in touch with Dr. Wilson. It’s never too late (or too early) to start breathing better!
As with any other medical issue, early diagnosis and treatment may help prevent or reduce the severity of future medical issues. Improved airway health at a young age can restore a normal growth pattern to a child’s face, assist in building a more aligned bite and smile, and sometimes prevent the need for future jaw surgery. Some studies have even linked airway problems and serious sleep issues to ADHD.