Kids and Orthodontics- What parents should know

Most parents have no idea what they’re getting involved with when they walk into the orthodontist’s office. They hope to give their children straight teeth and a beautiful smile.
They can end up with a lot more or much less .

Let’s start with the positive ,that is what’s possible . The best orthodontists today can do a lot more than just straighten teeth . To start , they can help normalize your child’s breathing for a lifetime by establishing ideal nasal breathing. In order to do this, enlarged tonsils and adenoids must be managed as well as habits such as mouth breathing, thumb sucking, pacifiers and tongue thrusts. The pediatric ENT and Oromyologist should be on the team. Without normal nasal breathing , growth and development will be adversely effected and an ideal result doomed. Many kids today have allergies which prevent nasal breathing. These allergies can be environmental or to foods like wheat and dairy.

Normal nasal breathing should be established at a very young age , younger than you think.. A recently published 6 year study on 11,000 children found that mouth breathing , snoring and apnea led to behavioral Issues like hyperactivity and aggressive behavior as well as anxiety and depression . Symptoms peeked at 30 months of age, which is a call for much earlier intervention than was once thought.

Once normal nasal breathing has been established and the tongue is positioned against the palate , orthodontic treatment can begin. With proper upper jaw development and palate widening the stage is set for a great result . Correct breathing and tongue posture are prerequisites for health and function in kids .

Questions should be answered about your child’s sleep quality and snoring, night terrors, bed wetting, bruxing, clenching , and sleep walking and talking . These are parasomnias or sleep disorders which can be associated with breathing restriction , airway resistance and sleep apnea. Specific orthodontic techniques combined with ENT procedures can correct these sleep disorders and prevent sleep apnea as adults. Children with behavioral problems and ADHD may be suffering from poor sleep quality related to their breathing , clenching and leg movements.

Many children also suffer from earaches, headaches and ear fullness. A well trained orthodontist will understand the relationship between the teeth, jaws , muscles and temporomandibular joints to head pain and ear symptoms.

So for the good news – the right orthodontist can help with the airway, sleep , growth and development, behavioral issues, school performance , ADHD as well as earache, headache and other TMJ complaints such as clicking and locking of the jaws . The bonus is that these kids will have the best looking faces in the world , the biggest smiles , most ideal profiles and ideal posture.

For more information contact aapmd.org or mgelb@gelbcenter.com

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