Children, Airway Development and Myofunctional Orthodontics

Did you know crowded or crooked teeth, a crossbite, underbite or overbite are the signs of an underlying development issue?

Once thought to be genetics, the way a child’s jaw fits together is more a result of external influences and airway development issues.

Why is proper airway development so important?

Regular oxygen interruptions can have an enormous impact on the development of a child’s brain.  Outside of this, dietary factors, breathing patterns and incorrect alignment from facial muscles and the tongue can also alter and impact on a child’s normal growth.

Children who have problems breathing due to allergies, large tonsils or adenoids may also snore at night – a tell-tale sign that their airway is interrupted.  Snoring or airway restriction in children has been associated with poor academic performance, memory and language difficulties.

What are the signs my child may have an issue with their airway?

There are both medical and physical signs which may indicate airway issues.

Medical

  • Allergies or asthma
  • Snoring
  • Large adenoids or tonsils
  • Bedwetting
  • Hyperactivity

Physical

  • Narrow upper arch
  • Long, narrow face
  • Poor tongue posture
  • Crossbite
  • Small, poorly developed nostrils
  • Gummy smile
  • Open mouth posture (anterior open bite)
  • Short and turned up upper lip

Myofunctional Orthodontics: treatment for airway issues

The single most important step in this process is diagnosis.  If you suspect airway issues in your child, visit a dentist who has a focus in airway development and myofunctional orthodontics. Myofunctional orthodontic intervention works to expand the jaw and the airway, and may include one or several of the below techniques. Myofunctional orthodontic will address the underlying causes of why the teeth are misaligned, rather than just straightening the teeth.

Myofunctional therapy

Myofunctional therapy strengthens the lips, tongue and facial muscles to encourage proper nasal breathing, chewing and swallowing. This often incorporates osteopathic physicians, speech and physical therapists, facial and throat specialists.

ALF Orthodontics

ALF (Alternate Lightwire Functionals) orthodontics involves wearing a metal appliance that generates gentle constant forces, which is then transmitted through the teeth to the underlying bone. The ALF appliance encourages correct tongue posture to help upper jaw development, while promoting lip seal and nasal breathing.

Myobrace

The Myobrace combines early orthodontic treatment with myofunctional therapy to treat children as young as 4 years old. This technique works to improve breathing, muscle function and tongue posture to achieve the correct facial development. This system involves a series of removable appliances which are worn while sleeping and 1-2 hours each day.

Buteyko Breathing Method

The Buteyko Breathing Method consists of a series of breathing exercises specifically designed to reduce over-breathing and restore proper nasal breathing. This encourages normal levels of oxygen to reach the organs and brain; a critical habit during a child’s development and growth.

Frenectomy to release Tethered Oral Tissues (Tongue-tie)

Tethered Oral Tissues (TOT) refers to a portion of the tissue under the tongue or lip which restricts oral and facial movements. This condition can be treated through a frenectomy procedure to remove the tissue and allow adequate tongue movement.

Airway Development at Elite Dental

At Elite Dental, our focus on children’s orthodontics has shifted to now encourage correct facial development, improving airway space and nasal breathing, and teaching patients the tools for long term health. We also want to create awareness and start the conversation as to why proper airway development is so important for functioning muscles and a healthy, straight smile.

If you would like to learn more about your early intervention options or to book an appointment with Elite Dental, please contact us or call 03 9449 1211.


MYOFUNCTIONAL THERAPY
Using a series of targeted exercises, myofunctional therapy creates harmony between the facial muscles to ensure effective breathing, speaking, eating and socializing.
for children and adults
In honor of Children's Dental Health Month, we're hosting an exciting event about myofunctional therapy, and how your child's breathing could affect their health for the rest of their life. This event will take place at our office on Monday February 26 from 4.30pm