Sleep Disordered Breathing
Children’s teeth grinding and sleep disordered breathing (SDB)
A Staunton Healthy Start provider
When my daughter was 2 years old, she started grinding her teeth (sleep bruxism) every night; so loudly in fact that we would try to gently wake her up to stop her. As a dentist, I was concerned that she would wear her teeth down prematurely. As a mom, I was worried that there was an underlying issue that needed to be resolved. During our annual check up with the pediatrician, he said that bruxism was “normal” and it would eventually stop. While I absolutely adore our pediatrician, I respectfully disagreed with his assessment. While bruxism in children is common, it’s not necessarily normal, and I now understand that grinding teeth is actually a manifestation of a underlying airway disorder.
“Just because it’s common, doesn’t mean it’s normal”
We now understand that teeth grinding is just one of the symptoms related to Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB), which causes airflow to be interrupted and blood oxygen levels to drop. When this happens, many people will naturally respond by grinding clenching their teeth to help open up their airway.
This is a cyclical problem, where compromised airway can lead to teeth grinding, which leads to worn teeth, which leads to TMJ joint disorders, which leads to sleep disorders. The key is to find the root cause and interrupt this pattern to improve overall sleep and TMJ wellness.
Sleep Disordered Breathing in children is especially problematic, because sleep deprivation can lead to a number of identified problems.
SDB related health disorders
About the Healthy Start System
The Healthy Start System is an oral appliance therapy that promotes the natural growth and development of the upper and lower jaw, which addresses the root cause of Sleep Disordered Breathing. These appliances were designed to promote proper nasal breathing with the added benefit of straightening your child’s teeth. As the jaw and airway develop, many of the symptoms related to Sleep Disordered Breathing disappear, and when kids can breathe properly, their overall well being improves and they can grow into healthy adults – as nature intended.
In the past, many of the above mentioned health disorders were “treated” with drugs or surgery without further evaluation of a possible root cause. Until recently, I was also suggesting to patients that they have their children evaluated for swollen tonsils or adenoids if I learned that they were on ADD/ADHD medication. Now, through my experience with my own children, I have started to chase alternative treatment options that are much less invasive.
Diagnosis and Treatment
Healthy Start not only addresses the root cause of SDB, it simultaneously straightens your child’s teeth without braces. These appliances help expand the arch to allow for proper spacing for teeth to grow in, but also guide the teeth grow straight. Think of this as an interceptive appliance to straighten teeth, as opposed to using braces to do the work.
Diagnosis starts with a simple questionnaire for you to fill out. We then evaluate the results and set up a time to examine your child. If your child is a candidate, we start with a Habit Corrector to train your child on proper tongue placement through myofunctional exercises. This will help train your child to properly breath through the nose, while simultaneously starting the process of arch expansion.
Healthy Start Results
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