During your initial consultation at Annapolis Orthodontics, I have many questions I ask parents to answer about their child’s airway related to sleeping, breathing, hyperactivity, and yes, even bed-wetting habits. I know there are not many orthodontists out there asking you questions like this, but allow me to explain why I always do:
Did you know that the roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose? Think about it: the roof of your mouth and the floor of your nose are the same bone. If your child has a narrow upper jaw, then by default, they may also have decreased nasal airway volume. Decreased nasal airway volume can cause all sorts of other symptoms like snoring, having lips apart during the day, restless sleep, night terrors, moving around a lot when sleeping, ADD/ADHD, and even things like acid reflux and bed wetting. These things can all be related to a narrow upper jaw.
Did you know if you can’t breathe well through your nose that your mouth will have to be open to breathe all day long? This means that the mouth will be more dry with less saliva. Saliva is your body’s natural tooth cleaner. If your saliva never gets a chance to coat the teeth, you will also be more prone to cavities; even if your child is a diligent tooth brusher.
Another sad finding is how many children are diagnosed with ADHD or ADD. Unfortunately, children are put on medications when they actually have an airway problem resulting in poor sleep. Unlike adults, who are usually very tired during the day if sleep quality is poor, kids are quite the opposite: they get hyper. Kid’s bodies are trying to help keep them awake! Sleep-disordered breathing can be a cause of daytime hyperactivity and should always be investigated before your child is put on medications long term.
The good news is that there is a pretty simple orthodontic solution for narrow upper jaws when they are caught early on. A simple orthodontic expander (aka “spacer”) can create a broader upper jaw in just a matter of weeks! Having a broader upper jaw means (1) The nasal airway volume will be bigger (2) We gain a bigger circumference for the large adult teeth coming down the road. In conclusion, there can be many benefits to expanding early, especially when there is an airway or sleep problem.
As cliche as this sounds, airways are often an overlooked area of orthodontics that can truly change a child’s life. I’m passionate about doing a very thorough, initial evaluation because I know how life-changing it can be. I ask every patient and parent about sleeping and breathing. At Annapolis Orthodontics, it’s not just your teeth we evaluate. There is so much more connected to those pearly whites and that is why I love what I do!
If you suspect that your child has an airway or sleeping issue, feel free to schedule a complimentary consultation at Annapolis Orthodontics. We would love to help you!