Sleep Apnea and Orthodontics in Children

Sleep Apnea and Orthodontics in Children

Our children should not snore.  Snoring is irritating when your spouse keeps you awake or your uncle in the next room is raising the roof with nocturnal noises.  For kids, snoring is a sure sign of sleep apnea, and it has repercussions beyond irritation.  Orthodontists have specialty training that allows them to evaluate your child’s smile as it relates to sleep disordered breathing (SDB).  Dentofacial orthopedics is an important part of the orthodontists’ specialty training and only a university trained orthodontist has it.  If your child snores, they should see an orthodontist immediately to evaluate them for apnea and the underlying smile changes that occur.

As a young person, we need our sleep.  If snoring and sleep apnea are constantly interrupting our sleep patterns, children’s brains stop developing normally.  Cognitive development is so important in our younger years.  Snoring is a sign that deep sleep is not occurring, and that’s when our kids’ brains are developing.  Orthodontists are trained to evaluate teeth, and many signs of apnea that are super-obvious to orthodontists, may be missed by other healthcare practitioners.  Some of the signs that orthodontists look for include: large over bites and ovejets, crowding, lower jaws well behind the upper jaws, crossbites, worn teeth from grinding, and many more.

Only a trained orthodontic specialist has the training and experience to evaluate your child’s bite and facial development to know if early intervention is necessary.  Expanders and appliances that move the lower jaw forward are much less invasive and painful than the removal of tonsils and adenoids, and there are scientific studies showing that orthodontic intervention is more effective at treating sleep apnea than routine removal of tonsils and adenoids.  Invented philosophies like MyoTropics use catchy and unproven treatments.  Your best decision for pediatric dental care is to choose an orthodontic specialist who is well-versed in treating patients age seven or younger.

Some of the signs you may see at home (other than snoring) is hyperactivity, irregular sleep habits, daytime sleepiness, school performance issues, tooth grinding, or even bed wetting.  Finding an orthodontic home for your child by age seven is one of the most important health decisions you can make for your child.  Not only for that great smile that will make a difference well into adulthood, but also for their sleep.  A child who is a good sleeper, will have a better chance at functioning well in school and also in life.  Your Smile is Important…Choose a Specialist.

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