Early Orthodontic Treatment

Sleep Issues in Children – Read before your child’s next physical exam

February 3rd, 2019


When you hear the words sleep apnea, you probably don’t think much about kids. However, sleep apnea affects 2-3% of kids, and the symptoms are subtler than they are in adults. Children with sleep apnea may appear totally normal at a physical exam, but there are some signs to watch out for. This list is not all-inclusive, nor does it mean that any one of these indicates a problem. However, if some of these describe your child, it may be a good idea to consult with your family doctor about the possibility that sleep may a problem.

  • Snoring – No child should snore – period. An occasional load breath may be heard, but your child should not be snoring or breathing loudly at night on a regular basis. Snoring in children goes hand-in-hand with sleep apnea, and this should definitely be brought the attention of your family doctor.
  • Teeth grinding – Grinding teeth at night may be a defense mechanism for the body. If your child is struggling with proper airflow at nighttime (due to a collapsed airway, tonsils, adenoids, allergies, etc.), pushing the lower jaw forward often helps open the airway to allow a better passage of air down the throat. This protective measure for the body is helpful for breathing, but can really cause long lasting harmful effects on the teeth.
  • Bedwetting – Typically, by around the age of 5, most kids will be able to sleep without wetting the bed. An accident here or there is much different than an older child who is wetting the bed frequently. Although this can be due to other medical conditions, bedwetting can be linked to sleep disorders as the body fails to awaken when the bladder is full.
  • Mouth breathing – While humans are able to breathe through both the nose and the mouth, we are technically “obligate nasal breathers” as a species, meaning we are supposed to breathe through our nose. Deviated septum, allergies, and other nasal airway obstructions can make it difficult to breathe through the nose. Mouth breathing can affect the development of the face, jaws, and teeth position, often times leading to orthodontic treatment to normalize the effects of letting the mouth hang open all the time.
  • ADHD – Sleep issues may contribute to problems relating to attention span. When some kids don’t get enough sleep, they actually act opposite of what we would expect – they actually become hyperactive rather than tired. Additionally, they may be irritable, unfocused, and easily distracted, and these consequences can have a very negative effect on school performance. Studies have shown that 1/3 kids with ADHD also snore while sleeping.
  • Morning headaches – If your child’s airway is partially blocked while sleeping, the amount of oxygen in the blood will be reduced. This reduction in oxygen level may lead to headaches, specifically in the morning after waking from a poor night’s sleep.
  • Sleepwalking and sleep talking – Typically if these are observed, they are usually shortly after going to bed and associated with “confused arousal.” This means that something startles the child awake, but they are still subconscious and may not be fully awake. This arousal may be from other medical conditions, but it may also be from airway obstruction that causes sleepwalking and/or sleep talking.

The bottom line is this – sleep is obviously important for all of us, but many kids with sleep issues are not being identified. As an orthodontist, I am a specialist in facial growth and development, and my job is to simply screen for some of these issues. I can fix some of the side effects on the teeth and jaws, but ultimately a physician (sleep specialist or ENT physician) needs to put all the pieces together to make a diagnosis. So, if you see these issues at home, or your dentist or orthodontist has mentioned some of them to you, make sure to follow up with your physician. Improving your child’s sleep very well could change their life, so the sooner we do it, the better : )

- Dr. Zach

IT'S ABOUT MORE THAN JUST STRAIGHT TEETH

October 13th, 2018

Orthodontics is awesome. Using braces or Invisalign, we have the ability to shape a person's smile over the course of 12-24 months. It's simply amazing to see the transformation in esthetics and bite correction along the way.

Traditionally, orthodontics has been focused on just the teeth - which, I agree, is the main point : ) - but there is so much more to it than just straightening teeth. The teeth, more importantly, are the focal point in the smile. A smile is our own, personal, lifelong asset that is truly unique to us. It conveys emotion to our friends, family, and strangers, and it will show up in photos that capture the most important memories and events of our lives.

It should come as no surprise that with so much emphasis on our smile, some people are truly not happy with it. They may feel they have to hide it, or worse, that others are teasing them in school because of their appearance. This can be very challenging for both kids and adults alike, and this is why orthodontics is so much more powerful than straight teeth.

 

In the course of wearing braces or Invisalign, we get to see the change in confidence and self-esteem of so many people. It is truly gratifying to know that treatment can affect a person's life in such profound ways. There are many studies that support that orthodontic treatment has positive psychosocial effects, and this is truly what it is all about.

It's about improving lives by improving smiles. It's about feeling confident in all those important moments in life. It's about giving your child more self-esteem in all those awkward years of their young lives. It's about looking back at photos of those milestone days of our lives and really appreciating that each and every one of us has a unique smile, and we should not be afraid to show it : )

- Dr. Zach

 

6 Common Questions About Palatal Expanders

June 1st, 2018

Many young kids are referred to our office by their dentist, and parents are often wondering why we see kids that are 7 to 10 years old. In some cases, there may be a bone size imbalance between the upper and lower jaw, and palatal expanders are a great way to correct these problems to set children up for more balanced growth and tooth eruption as they enter adolescence. Here are some common questions that I answer on a daily basis about palatal expanders.

1) Why does my child need an expander?
A palatal expander is typically used to widen the upper jaw when it is too narrow compared to the lower jaw. It commonly treats a dental condition known as "cross bite" which is when the top teeth fit inside the bottom teeth. In some cases, expanders are used to create room for teeth that are stuck or impacted.

2) What does an expander do?
A palatal expander widens the upper jaw slowly to correct a bone size problem and make room for more teeth. It works by actually pushing the bones apart on the roof of the mouth, and then holds the bones in the new position while solid bone is created on the roof of the mouth. This new bone that forms will stabilize the correction.

3) What can we expect with our new palatal expander?
It make take up to one week to adjust to an expander. Your child may feel some pressure on the roof of the mouth and on the molar teeth. Your child may also complain that it feels funny to swallow as his or her tongue must adjust to the new appliance. Spacing may occur between the front teeth as the upper jaw widens.

4) Will the expander be painful?
We rarely hear complaints of pain with a palatal expander since are slowing moving the teeth and the bones. Tongue discomfort in the first week is the most common complaint.

5) Are there any eating restrictions?
Hard and sticky foods can dislodge the expander. We recommend avoiding all sticky and chewy candies as well as very hard foods.

6) How long does will the expander stay in place?
Typically, an expander will be in place for about 9 months total time. This may vary from child to child depending on his or her needs.

I hope this information is helpful in answering some common questions about expanders. If you have any other questions or are looking for more information, feel free to send us an email or call for a complimentary consultation. As Downers Grove's community orthodontist, I look forward to helping you and your family : )

- Dr. Zach

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