Airway Problems

A child may experience improper growth patterns to the face and jaw due to an airway problem. A properly functioning airway carries air exchange between the oral and nasal cavities and the lungs. When airway function is compromised, this affects the proper development of the teeth and jaws.

Over time, an untreated airway issue can cause additional health issues for a child and affect how a child’s facial features develop and how the child eventually looks as an adult.

Early detection and treatment are essential in correcting the airway problem and preventing more serious comorbidities from developing.

How Breathing Affects Facial Development

Three factors influence a child’s facial development: the functioning of muscles, proper nutrition, and the ability to breathe normally.

Normal breathing is breathing through the nose with lips sealed and the tongue at the roof of the mouth.

When a child cannot breathe normally through the nose, he or she will compensate for this by breathing through the mouth. Mouth breathing over an extended period of time will distort and shrink the airway and may eventually lead to dental problems such as clenching and/or grinding the teeth, sensitivity, receding gums, periodontal disease, and tooth decay.

Proper breathing is essential for a child’s health and development.

How To Detect A Possible Airway Issue in Your Child

Your child may have an airway issue if he or she

  • Has loud breathing when asleep
  • Has nasal congestion
  • Breathes mostly through the mouth
  • Has pause in breathing during sleep
  • Is a restless sleeper
  • Is excessively sleepya
  • Is hyperactive or inattentive

Signs and Symptoms of Having An Airway Issue

If your child has an airway issue, he or she may display one or more of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Mouth breathing
  • Chapped lips
  • Dark circles beneath the eyes
  • Venous pooling beneath the eyes
  • Posturing the head forward and/or tipping the forehead backward
  • Tongue-Tie
  • Lip-Tie
  • Deviated septum
  • Tonsil and Adenoid problems
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Loud grinding of teeth during sleep
  • Bedwetting
  • Ear infections
  • Allergies
  • Clenching/grinding teeth
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Picky eating

Diagnosing an Airway Problem

During your child’s consultation, Dr. Reece will be checking for proper development of the jaw and harmony of the face. She will also screen for breathing and oral habits that may affect dentofacial development over time.

Airway Treatment at Advanced Dentistry of Kearney

If you think your child has an airway issue causing dental and overall health issues, contact Advanced Dentistry of Kearney at (308) 237-1311 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Stacy Reece. You may also request an appointment online.

Dr. Reece offers conservative treatment methods aimed at restoring natural balance to the system. This may involve correcting imposing structures to allow for an increase in airway space and thus an increase in airflow.

Airway Problems FAQs

What causes a compromised airway?

Over the years, we’ve learned that distortions in facial growth patterns lead to compromised airways. This is because the airway exists above and behind the mouth. So any distortions affecting the mouth also affect the airway.

Structures that can impact the airway include:

  • Upper and Lower Jaws
  • Upper and Lower Dental Arches (Teeth)
  • Nasal Cavity / Palate
  • Tongue
  • Enlarged Tonsils and/or Adenoids

If a structure is affecting the airway space, then airflow is restricted.

What common health issues compromise the airway?

Common health issues that can compromise the airway include:

  • Asthma and Allergies
  • Middle Ear Infections
  • Sleep Disorders (sleep apnea, insomnia)
  • Snoring
  • Sinus Problems
  • Postural Problems
  • Dental Crowding
  • Overbites, Crossbites, and Open Bites
  • Enlarged Tonsils
  • Chronic Fatigue

What are considered postural problems?

Postural problems include:

  • Headaches
  • Neckaches
  • Backaches
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Which airway issues are dental-related?

The following airway issues may be dental-related:

  • Asthma and Allergies
  • Middle Ear Infections
  • Sleep Disorders, Namely Snoring and Sleep Apnea
  • Chronic Sinus Infections or Congestion
  • Inflamed or Enlarged Tonsils and/or Adenoids
  • Post-Nasal Drip
  • Chronic Coughing or Throat Clearing
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