WHAT IS AIRWAY ORTHODONTICS?
Sleep apnea is a medical problem with an orthodontic solution. Airway-focused orthodontics studies the established link between optimal breathing and long-term health benefits. Certain oral habits and breathing obstructions can force the body to compensate for lower oxygen levels.
Research shows that the body’s continuous struggle for adequate oxygen over an extended period of time can mean an increased risk for numerous health problems. Episodes of complete or partial upper airway obstruction during sleep, known as obstructive sleep apnea or OSA, occur in more than 18 million American adults, and up to 5 percent of children.
All orthodontic treatment can and should be developed around sustaining the best airway possible, especially in growing children when airway problems can be caught early. Airways can be enlarged and developed. This is essential for patients suffering from sleep apnea and critical in children at risk for developing sleep apnea. They are associated with medical health problems such as learning and behavioral problems, heart disease, and impaired growth.
Restricted airway leads to mouth breathing, which can dramatically affect facial growth and development as well as desired width of the dental arch forms. This constriction can further narrow the airway through the nasal base, which creates a vicious cycle of further airway constriction.
Signs and symptoms of OSA:
- Mouth Breathing
- Aggressive Behavior
- Ear/Sinus Infections
- Restless Sleep
- Short Attention Span
- Facial & Jaw Deformities
- Swollen Tonsils
- Narrow Jaws
- Diminished Mental Capacity (IQ)
- High Blood Pressure
- Lung Disease
- Bed Wetting
- Mouth Breathing
- Daytime Drowsiness
- Chronic Allergies
- Enlarged Adenoids
- Overlapping Incisors
Treating Airway Disorders Is Cutting-Edge Orthodontics
Dr. Beth’s approach to orthodontic treatment does not just factor in straightening teeth. She incorporates the latest research about the harmful effects of sleep disorders and airway blockages. Dr. Beth also analyzes facial structure, nasal passages, sinuses and jaw development as part of her diagnostic evaluation. She recognizes that the most effective orthodontic treatment works in conjunction with treatment for conditions like sleep apnea, snoring and other airway disorders.
For children, she can expand the arches with braces and the latest orthodontic appliances available, preferably without extracting permanent teeth which might otherwise constrict the arches and take away oral space.
Traditional sleep apnea remedies (such as snoring devices and CPAP machines) can be effective, but they do not address the underlying anatomical problem, can come with side effects and can be difficult to tolerate. Dr. Beth works to address the underlying problems that cause the symptoms of sleep apnea, not just the symptoms themselves. When treatment is overly focused on nothing but the symptoms of a disorder, it is like putting a bandage over it, where the hope is that the problem will eventually just go away on its own.
Here at BauerHite Orthodontic Specialists, we do not believe in that sort of treatment, and we will do everything we can to leverage our advanced training and technology to address the actual cause of your problem, not just the symptoms.
Our State-of-the-Art Technology Examines Your Breathing as Part of Our Orthodontic Assessment
Dr. Beth starts the process by using our in-office diagnostic scanning technology or I-CAT, to construct a high-quality 3D image of the mouth, neck and throat. This advanced diagnostic equipment reveals any structural issues related to restricted airways or sinus abnormalities. In fact, we often find that the i-CAT’s results more accurately pinpoint why you or your child are not sleeping well, wake up sleepy, have a constant runny nose, frequent ear infections or even have trouble in school or at work.
Using this scan as a base, we are able to create a treatment plan just for you or your child. This plan consists of a series of steps that can help relieve your child of the symptoms of sleep apnea and work over time to help breathing become normal, healthy and sustainable. As your child goes through your personal treatment plan, she will continue to scan and rescan the airway and ensure your child is making the progress that will help them move towards a secure and healthy future.
If you would like to schedule a consultation to learn more about airway orthodontics, call our office today at (618) 692-1044 to schedule your free consultation.