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Pediatric Airway & Orofacial Development

How does the development of the muscles around the face and mouth affect children’s airways? First we need to look at the cause, how did this happen? “Growing out of it” is no longer an acceptable answer! Adults are experiencing cardiovascular disease and other chronic medical conditions, not develop overnight. It started earlier in life and sleep disorder breathing has been linked to the root cause. Prevention is KEY so let’s be aware of what to look for in our children!

Open Mouth during the night or day is unhealthy.

What is the cause? The pediatric (child) airway is obstructed. Where is the tongue at rest? The position of the tongue at rest is how the tongue is used during function and where it will go at sleep. Is the tongue at the bottom or the mouth, middle between the teeth, or at top of the mouth in the palate? The tongue needs to be in the palate with the tip of the tongue behind the front teeth and the middle of the tongue up in the palate between the premolars, the body’s natural retainer. If it is down low the whole airway development will be compromised. The tongue when up on the “spot" will guide growth of the maxilla and the mandible grows according to the maxilla. The tongue in the palate will encourage and expand the oral cavity driving growth and development. The tongue low in the mouth will result in mouth breathing, narrow palate, crowded teeth, improper swallow, open bite, enlarged tonsils and adenoids. Please check where your child’s tongue is, it is detrimental to their growth and development!

How is the airway affected? With a narrow palate everything in the cranial development gets altered. When the tongue is low in the mouth during the day it mimics the same posture at night. The tongue drops back in the throat, snoring occurs. Snoring is Sleep Disorder Breathing (SDB). SDB is a broad term with Obstructive Sleep Apnea most commonly known and most severe. To survive the body needs oxygen, during sleep the tongue falls to the back of the throat and blocks the airway. The body tries to open the airway, grinding the teeth to shift the jaw and move the tongue. Not only are the teeth flatter from the grinding but the sleep is disrupted. Disrupted sleep alters bodies nightly repair that is needed. Here are the signs Sleep Disorder Breathing in Children:

  • Picky eating-food & texture aversions

  • Choking, vomiting, gagging foods or liquids

  • Food falling out mouth, use fingers to move around in mouth, pocketing food, trapped gums or cheeks.

  • Migraines & Headaches

  • Behavior Issues, ADD or ADHD

  • School Difficulty

  • Snoring

  • Night Terrors (restless sleep)

  • Bedwetting until tweens

  • Increased dental oral health issues, cavities, bad breath

  • Mouth Breathing

  • Venous Pooling (dark circles under eyes)

  • Allergies

  • Strained swallowing (noises, if you can see the swallow)

  • Grinding (flat teeth)

  • Speech Problems

  • Tongue Thrust

If you see these signs please contact me to help your child get the medical care they need to improve their health!

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