Are you worried that your child isn’t getting enough sleep? Maybe they wake up with dark circles under their eyes and seem lethargic during the day. Maybe their teachers have reported that they have difficulty focusing at school and have suggested that you have your child evaluated for ADHD. Maybe they experience occasional bedwetting or night terrors, or perhaps you’ve noticed that they sleep restlessly and occasionally snore. There is a theory that these symptoms could be tied to jaw alignment, so if you’ve noticed that your child is having difficulty sleeping, I may be able to help (and without the use of stimulants or depressants). Here’s how:
The Obstructed Airway Theory
When a child’s airway is inadequate, they experience a form of sleep apnea, which is when breathing stops periodically during sleep. Whatever the cause – tonsils, adenoids, allergies, etc. – this prevents the restorative rest that comes with deep, REM sleep. Without proper rest and recovery, growth hormone secretion is slowed, which may cause children to be smaller and weaker than other children their age. To fight exhaustion during the day, they become hyperactive and may be labeled ADD or ADHD and are given stimulants to keep them alert. If all of these problems occur as a result of an obstructed airway, wouldn’t it make sense to treat the cause instead of the symptoms?
The Proposed Treatment
While medications may treat the symptoms of obstructed airways, a functional appliance may actually treat the cause. A functional appliance (which can be removed when necessary) can bring the jaw forward and alleviate some of the symptoms. Better yet, it expands the top jaw, which permanently provides room for the bottom jaw to move forward and creates space for the sinuses. In adults, sleep appliances have a similar function; they bring the jaw forward, creating space for the tongue so it’s not resting on the back of the throat. Addressing the problem during childhood can prevent restless sleep, obstructive sleep apnea, and temporomandibular dysfunction in adulthood.
The Ideal Scenario
While some suggest waiting for permanent teeth to come in before considering orthodontic treatment, addressing the problem while your child’s facial structure is still growing is ideal. With 3D cephalometric analysis, I can address jaw problems in children as young as six or seven years-old. Theoretically, treating the cause of an obstructed airway early could save your child years of sleeplessness, problems focusing, and delayed growth.
If your child displays any of the symptoms mentioned, please contact my office today. If the symptoms are the result of an obstructed airway, I may be able to prevent years of associated complications. At Dental Solutions of Mississippi, we seek to address potential problems before they occur; let us help your child thrive through the use of a functional appliance.