You may not realize it, but your child’s airway plays a pivotal role in their growth and facial development. The way they breathe can negatively impact their teeth, smile, face, and overall health, but how can you tell if there is an obstruction that is keeping them from sleeping soundly? As fathers and board-certified kid’s dentists, Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage offer holistic dentistry for kids in McKinney and can explain what signs/symptoms you should look for when identifying whether your child has a problem that requires professional treatment. A poor airway can have long-lasting negative effects on the physical, mental, and emotional growth, development, and wellness of children.
The Airway Impact
It may come as a surprise, but your child’s facial development is 60% complete by the age of 6. As they continue to grow, much of their appearance will be based on three influences: how they breathe, nutrition, and the way their facial muscles function.
Unsure how your child’s breathing has anything to do with their development? Here’s a clearer explanation:
It is most common for individuals, no matter their age, to breathe through the nose. However, when an obstruction prevents this from happening (i.e. sinus congestion, nasal blockage, tongue-tie), it can lead to breathing through the mouth. Over time, this action can affect and alter a child’s facial growth pattern leading to problems with overall health and abnormal facial development, especially in children.
If your child is identified as a “mouth-breather,” you might begin to see a change in the way their jaw and facial structure develop. When nasal breathing does not occur, the tongue will lay flat in the lower jaw and encourage a mouth breathing habit. Unfortunately, chronic mouth breathers develop an elongated and more narrow facial shape with a retruded lower jaw. But what about the upper portion of the face? This area (i.e. upper jaw, nasal and cheekbones) will be unable to develop normally, negatively impacting the balance and function your child’s face will need as they grow. An underdeveloped upper jaw can also be problematic when it comes to supporting your child’s eye sockets, nasal airway, head posture, and spine and body alignment. Sometimes you will see a sunken-in appearance or dark circles under the eyes indicative of venous pooling, as a result of poor oral posture, poor breathing, and decreased restful sleep.
If your child develops enlarged tonsils or adenoids, this can cause a blockage to occur within the nasal passage and compromise their ability to breathe successfully through their nose. This can often lead to the development of sleep apnea and chronic snoring.
Sleep Disordered Breathing
Sleep disordered breathing in children is not uncommon, but it should be evaluated and treated quickly before progressing into more advanced stages that may develop into sleep apnea. When your child’s inability to breathe through the nose can result in difficulty obtaining rejuvenating restful sleep. Your child may start to show signs of behavioral, developmental, or social problems due to a lack of the brain’s ability to recharge during rest. Sleep apnea, a condition in which a person ceases breathing while they are asleep, can also develop if sleep disordered breathing is not recognized and treated early.
Signs and Symptoms: How to Tell if There is a Problem
Every child is different, so even if yours is not experiencing all the following symptoms, make sure you get them in to see a pediatric dentist in McKinney if you notice any of these problems developing:
- Breathing through the mouth
- Chronic sinus problems or sore throat
- Loud snoring
- Teeth grinding
- Tongue or lip-tie
- Changes in head posture (i.e. falling back or tipping forward)
- Chapped lips
- Dry mouth
- Red and swollen gingiva (gums)
- Difficulty swallowing
- Regular ear infections
- Deviated septum
Benefits of Seeking Professional Help
When choosing to bring your child in for professional help from qualified kid’s dentists in McKinney, such as Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage, you will reap the benefits that an early diagnosis can provide. Early recognition and diagnosis of potential airway issues give the advantage of precious time to treat your child during their more active years of physical growth and development to aid in the treatment process. Allowing their blocked airway to remain untreated can lead to years or even a lifetime of oral and overall health-related problems.
With early detection, diagnosis, and treatment, you will put your child on a clearer, healthier path. Your child’s dentist will be able to identify abnormalities that can negatively impact their development and provide proper treatment to help restore normal growth. It also allows for the pediatric dentist to minimize the potential need for jaw surgery in the future as well as help to build stronger, healthier bites and avoid common orthodontic issues (i.e. crooked or crowded teeth), or development of temporal mandibular joint (TMJ) jaw pain.
Should you or your little one start to notice a problem developing, don’t wait to seek help. Allow your child to breathe easier and feel confident in their appearance.
About the Authors
Dr. Justin Chan and Dr. Sage Yoo are both fathers who are also board-certified pediatric dentists living in Collin County. Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage take pride in providing the highest quality dental care for the families looking for pediatric dentistry in McKinney. Combining their passions for holistic and children’s dentistry, they provide a breadth of comprehensive services designed to meet the needs of your child. Whether they need preventive care, laser dentistry, or restorative services, their mission is to ensure the growth and development of your little one’s smile and overall wellbeing. Sprout Dentistry for Kids is conveniently located on the border of Frisco, McKinney, and Allen Texas just north of SH-121. To learn more about our services, visit our website or call (469) 301-3212.