Airway &
Functional Orthodontics

Airway & Facial Development

Proper facial and airway development during childhood is essential for breathing which in turn influences overall health, social, emotional and educational success. Early detection using specific diagnostic technologies and methodologies, can aid in correcting and preventing any growth and development problems before they lead to more serious conditions.

A partially obstructed airway or the inability to breathe effectively though the nose can lead children to breathe primarily through their mouth which in turn sets up a cascade of events that will eventually impact a child’s health as well as cosmetic facial features and emotional/social interactions.

Signs that your child might be a mouth breather include:

Why is breathing primarily through the nose important? Breathing through the nose rather than the mouth is better for several reasons including:

Dangers of mouth breathing may not seem obvious, but they include:

Large adenoids and tonsils are the most common causes of breathing problems in children. They can cause sleep disturbances such as sleep apnea where breathing stops altogether for brief periods of time, usually unbeknownst to the child. While tonsils and adenoids serve to strengthen the immune system during the first two years of life after that, they should reduce in size significantly on their own. If they are enlarged, your child is likely dealing with chronic inflammation that should be addressed. At Strong Ties Oral Health, we encourage finding and treating the root cause of poor airway and facial development rather than treating the symptoms.

Arch development (Expansion)

Arch development or expansion is another form of early intervention orthodontics. In the past, this type of orthodontic intervention was reserved for the early teen years, but now early intervention is advised to not only straighten children’s teeth early but help with self-image during the impressionable grade school years.

Early Arch Development expands the upper and lower arches of the teeth with a set of upper and lower appliances. These appliances keep the teeth properly spread out as they erupt, and the surrounding bone develops.

Treatment typically lasts 8 to 12 months, and then retainers help maintain and ensure the arches don’t regress. The sooner treatment can get started, as soon as the first 2 permanent teeth erupt, the more successful arch development will be.

Even after treatment is complete, teeth continue to get straighter as time goes by. Occasionally, early arch development is the only phase of treatment a child will need but most cases will require a short phase of braces to correct any slight crowding or misalignment of bite at age 11 or 12. Early Arch Development is not only effective in preventing crowding of permanent teeth but results are more stable, there is less chance of needing to extract permanent teeth and less time, if any, is spent in braces during the early teen years.

Surgically facilitated orthodontic treatment

Surgically Facilitated Orthodontic Treatment (SFOT) is a surgical intervention performed before starting orthodontic therapy. It serves to improve the bone support surrounding the teeth for optimal surgical outcomes. It is typically performed under IV sedation in a clinical office.

We like SFOT because it provides a comprehensive approach to orthodontic care for the wellbeing and success of our patients. Other benefits include:

SFOT comes with a small additional cost when combined with other periodontal surgeries. It is similar in cost to having gum grafting or periodontal surgery with an additional cost for bone grafting materials.

What is recovery from surgically facilitated orthodontic treatment like? After SFOT, one can expect some mild discomfort and swelling. Rarely do patients need more than OTC ibuprofen to cover their pain or discomfort. Most return to normal activities and work after 2-3 days even while sutures are still in place.

Orthodontic Expansion in Adults

In the past, our belief was that expansion could not occur in adults. However, with new advances, we can temporarily use appliances that anchor to the upper jaw (maxilla) and expand the palate. The temporary anchors are called TADs and are simply added to the palate with numbing, similar to having regular dental procedure. After adequate expansion is achieved, these TADs and the upper palatal expander are removed. Sometimes braces or clear aligners can be combined with the expander, or they can be placed after palatal expansion.

Primitive Reflex Integration & Neurodevelopment

In dentistry, we focus on primitive reflex integration & neurodevelopment as a tool many other dentists don’t take into account. When children grow, optimal oral development hinges on properly developed sucking, swallowing and breathing reflexes, primitive reflexes that help the infant survive.

Using reflex integration and understanding the neurodevelopment behind the reflexes is important in oral development because some providers may see tongue-tie as a simple structural issue but not realize that problems may persist even after release if the tongue isn’t communicating properly with the brain in general. Parents think the tongue-tie release didn’t work but in truth, there is an underlying issue of reflexes that are not functioning properly and need to be addressed.

At Strong Ties Oral Health, Dr. Britney Green has been trained in how important it is to assess the neuropathways of the reflexes in question to fully evaluate and identify any underlying issues with breastfeeding or difficulty sucking on a bottle, swallowing and/or breathing.

Our tongue tie releases are based on the “Optimal Timing of Release,” considering the neuropathways as a part of the diagnosis and treatment for orofacial myofunctional disorders, tongue ties and sleep disordered breathing. Call Dr. Green today to learn more.

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