Have you noticed your child breathing primarily through their mouth during the day or while sleeping? It may seem harmless, but it can be dangerous to your child’s development if left untreated. If your child is experiencing mouth breathing, your dentist can help you understand what the cause is.
The Dangers of Mouth Breathing in Children
It is so important to recognize and treat children’s airway concerns as early as possible. When left untreated, breathing problems can cause serious issues to develop, and they can become more and more difficult to treat in later stages of life.
The immature airway, age-related developmental issues, and general health susceptibilities lead to increased risk for severe airway restriction in pediatric patients. If your child is relying heavily on mouth breathing during the day and when asleep, it can lead to further issues such as sleep disorders and airway obstructions.
Recognizing the signs of an airway disorder is a significant step toward a diagnosis that can help a child avoid a lifetime of challenges associated with poor sleep quality.
There is significant research that suggests there is a link between childhood behaviors and sleep breathing disorders. Perhaps your child falls asleep during the day or has difficulty paying attention at school, in which case they may experience learning problems. Many children also develop hyperactivity as a result of poor-quality sleep.
Case Study: Connor Deegan
This video from the American Academy of Physiological Medicine and Dentistry tells the story of Connor Deegan, told by his mother Valerie Deegan, about a young boy who struggled with behavioral problems.
From birth he was temperamental and demanding, and this behavior only escalated as he reached school age. By grade 4, both parents and teachers were exhausted, and he faced expulsion from school. That was until his mother organised for her child to undertake health assessments, including dental.
It turned out Connor Deegan was not a naughty child, he was just exhausted from sleep disordered breathing due to an obstructed airway.
What Can Your Dentist Do?
Your dentist can conduct an airway and growth assessment to understand if your child primarily breathing through the mouth is caused by airway, jaw, function and dental development issues. This is a simple assessment which your dentist can perform in-house
If you suspect your child has a breathing problem, we highly recommend that you come in and see the team at Elite Dental Staten Island. There are a number of treatments available for breathing difficulties. When you bring your child in for an assessment, we will advise you on the best course of treatment based on their specific needs.
If you think that your child may need airway treatment, we recommend that you take our pediatric sleep and airway questionnaire. This is a good starting point and a helpful tool before you come in for a consultation.
Find Out if Your Child Needs a Screening
If you think that your child may need airway treatment, we recommend that you take our pediatric sleep and airway questionnaire. If you answer “yes” to eight or more questions, you should consider referring your child for an evaluation.
At Elite Dental of Staten Island, we are proud to have a team that is compassionate, dedicated and highly experienced in children’s airway management and dental care. Dr Steven Acker is our principal dentist and has a special interest in the relationship between comprehensive oral health and total body wellness.