Taking care of our teeth is an important part of staying healthy, and this is especially true for children. Visiting the dentist from a young age helps create a trusting relationship and establish good oral health habits early on. These visits help prevent and treat any cavities, gum disease, and misalignment of teeth. Did you know the dentist can see things through your child’s dental exams that might be causing other problems?
Malocclusion and mouth breathing are common dental issues children have. They could be causing other sleep, behavior, and developmental issues. Dr. Rima Bazzi from Contemporary Dentistry shares how detecting issues with oral health and implementing early intervention can prevent these habits from carrying on to adulthood.
Can You Help My Child With Malocclusion?
Malocclusion is the improper bite relationship between the upper and lower teeth. The tongue, cheeks, and lips help maintain proper positioning of your teeth. However, if the facial muscles and tongue are out of balance, this can cause the teeth to become misaligned. When your teeth become misaligned, this can narrow your airway and cause other problems.
In children, oral habits such as finger and pacifier sucking, tongue thrusting, and teeth grinding can contribute to the misalignment of the teeth and imbalance of the oral muscles. Over time, these habits coupled with malocclusion can lead to speech issues, impaired developmental growth, and sleep-related breathing disorders. By having regular check ups with a dentist, they will be able to recognize the signs of any malocclusion and provide ways to help prevent any future issues.
Is It Bad That My Child Is a Mouth Breather?
Did you know you’re not supposed to breathe through your mouth, especially while sleeping? Breathing through your nose allows for more oxygen to be delivered to your brain and tissues. So if you are breathing through your mouth, especially while sleeping, it causes less oxygen to travel to the important parts of your body and can lead to feeling less than your best self each day.
Dentists can tell children are mouth breathing in more than one way. From the outside, they may notice dark circles under the eyes and a long face. When checking inside the mouth, dentists may see a low positioned tongue, high arched palate, narrow airway, and misaligned teeth. Oftentimes, the tonsils are enlarged which leads to an even greater obstruction of the airway.
So what’s the big deal? Doesn’t everyone breathe through their mouth from time to time? It is estimated that 9 out of 10 children will exhibit at least one symptom of sleep disordered breathing. If a child is mouth breathing while sleeping, their body remains in a heightened state of alertness instead of a relaxed state. This can cause them to grind their teeth, snore, and gasp for air during the nighttime.
These issues do not only affect their oral health, but their general health as well. Children often have behavioral and cognitive problems due to this including ADD/ADHD, daytime restlessness, difficulty in school, irritability, and more. This affects their entire lifestyle, and creates greater difficulties for the future. The importance of dental visits for children allows the detection of these signs and symptoms early on and establishes good oral healthcare throughout their life.
How Can Dentists Help?
It may seem like preventing a child from breathing through their mouth during the night time might be an impossible task, but there is a solution. It is called HealthyStart. This system consists of appliances that straighten the teeth and create a healthy, beautiful smile. Each system is specifically designed for the child and their issues. Unlike braces, they are removable and aren’t meant to be worn every second of the day.
HealthyStart improves the health and overall well-being of children by educating and treating the root causes such as mouth breathing, narrow palate, improper tongue positioning, and poor jaw relationships. This is a non-invasive treatment that helps expand the dental arches, train the tongue, establish nasal breathing, and open the airway by moving the lower jaw forward. Children who use HealthyStart are able to have more restful sleep, improved cognitive skills, and better nasal breathing.
With regular checkups, dentists play a critical role in children’s lives. By identifying and treating these issues and habits, we can improve the oral and general health of children. A healthier smile creates a healthier life!