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If you have concerns that your child might be experiencing complications with their sleep and airway function, when they come in for a consultation there is an examination protocol that we follow to further inspect these concerns.
Typical examination protocol already includes looking at the face, eyes, nose, lips, tongue, teeth and gums, and the oropharyngeal area. We follow the typical examination protocol while looking for specific signs that point to an airway issue. Common signs indicating airway complications are:
- Abnormal facial growth pattern (where the bones of the face are positioned), these patterns can be detected as early as two years old, with implementation of access to treatment by 4 years old
- Allergic shiners (shadowy pigmentation under eye, like a bruise)
- Shape and depth of the nose
- Deviated Septum/ swollen tissue
- Gummy smile
- Tied lip
- Tooth crowding/ malocclusions
- Tooth erosion and wear
These signs can be a part of something bigger, such as breathing and airway issues in your child. Facial growth patterns tell us the positioning of their facial bones and whether it affects the tongue position/posture, and ultimately the airway. Head positioning can also indicate airway concerns. For example, forward head posture shows that the patient is searching for an airway. Allergic shiners can tell us if they are having problems breathing out of their nose. We can also tell if the child is having problems breathing from their nose if their mouth is open while breathing throughout the day and night. Chapped lips will be an indicator of mouth breathing as well. A short upper lip and tied lips that sometimes produce a gummy smile which in the long run can impact the smile and tooth development.
Malocclusions, erosion and wear have previously been independent of airways issues, but modern findings suggest that these can be symptoms of a bigger problem such as ability to breathe. These concerns can be noticed as early as 4 years old when bone growth and development becomes more noticeable.
Airway examinations are important in pediatric patients in order to catch and treat complications early and prevent more serious or invasive treatments post permanent dentition and mature bone development.
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