All orthodontic treatment can and should be developed around sustaining the best airway possible, especially in growing children when airway problems can be caught early. Airways can be enlarged and developed. This is essential for patients suffering from sleep apnea and critical in children at risk for developing sleep apnea.
Episodes of complete or partial upper airway obstruction during sleep, otherwise known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), occur in more than 18 million American adults and up to 5% of children. OSA is associated with medical health problems, such as learning and behavioral problems, heart disease, impaired growth and failure to thrive. Airway orthodontics seeks to identify children experiencing cessation of breathing while sleeping.
The first defense against OSA due to enlarged tonsils or adenoids is surgery (i.e. tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy). For other children, or for those in which surgery is not effective, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (C-PAP) via a device that supplies oxygen through a facial mask is another option. However, as in adults, C-PAP is poorly tolerated, as the masks are uncomfortable and often removed while sleeping.
A high percentage of children with OSA also have narrow constricted palates, crossbites, severe crowding, and other jaw problems, all of which can worsen, or even be the cause of OSA. At Stellar Family Orthodontics, we recommend that all children receive an initial orthodontic consultation by age 7. We can help correct issues related to jaw growth and development.