Many parents do not realize the difference that a complete health dentist can make for children with sleep apnea. HealthyStart® dentists, in particular, dedicate themselves to working with children’s natural patterns of tooth eruption to help correct any airway issues. When it comes to sleep dentistry, early intervention can set your child up for success in the future.
Sleep dentistry is available at Fort Lauderdale Dental Studio in Fort Lauderdale and the surrounding area. A healthy start dentist can help your child establish good habits for life and prevent problems before they have the chance to occur. Call us today at (954) 519-7792 to schedule an appointment or to learn more about our services.
Why Healthy Start
HealthyStart is a form of complete health dentistry focused on treating overall health through oral health. Many people are surprised to learn that oral health is linked with other systemic conditions, including sleep apnea. However, an effective sleep dentist must be intimately aware of the oral-systemic link. This is especially true for children, as early intervention is critical in catching many oral and overall health issues before they get the chance to worsen.
Unlike traditional pediatric dentistry, which takes a more aggressive, oppositional approach, the HealthyStart System works with patients’ natural tooth eruption patterns. It achieves this via pliable, removable devices that are custom-made for each patient’s individual needs and comfort. These devices gently guide the erupting teeth into proper alignment. If necessary, they may also help correct the growth and alignment of the lower jaw by expanding the patient’s arches. By making these early corrections, children can avoid certain health problems later on.
“…early intervention is key in catching many oral and overall health issues before they get the chance to worsen.”
Healthy Start Dentists and Sleep
Sleep-disordered breathing is a phenomenon that all too often goes unnoticed. Though often treated as an isolated condition, it is usually a root cause of many other symptoms a child may exhibit. Unfortunately, such symptoms are often misdiagnosed or missed entirely. These conditions result from airway disruption during sleep. When a patient’s airway is blocked, their body produces a choking response — leading to a higher heart rate, higher blood pressure, and lower oxygen levels.
Temporomandibular jaw disorders, better known as TMJ, can also affect a child’s sleep. These disorders occur when the temporomandibular joint has been damaged or is otherwise malfunctioning. They are also frequently associated with sleep apnea, which is caused by airway disruption. If left untreated, an obstructed airway will only narrow more over time. HealthyStart dentists can help treat these sleeping issues by moving the upper and lower jaws forward. This opens the airway for maximum airflow while also encouraging mid-face growth and airway development.
“HealthyStart dentists can help treat these sleeping issues by moving the upper and lower jaws forward.”
Orthodontics and Sleep Apnea
Dentists are often the first to recognize the signs of obstructive sleep apnea in children, as skeletal and soft tissue growth both affect the size and shape of the upper airway. Tonsil size can also be a telltale indicator of sleep apnea. As the airway’s skeletal boundaries expand, the upper airway’s major lymphatic tissues (the adenoids and tonsils) shrink. If the skeletal boundaries are abnormal, then orthodontics (also known as braces) may become necessary.
However, traditional braces can be invasive and expensive — and it is not uncommon for some orthodontists to mistakenly tell parents that it is too early for their children to undergo treatment. The HealthyStart System is a non-invasive, natural alternative to straightening teeth and correcting skeletal irregularities. It is also, on average, almost half the cost of traditional braces. A HealthyStart dentist can fit a child for custom-made orthodontic devices to gently but permanently guide the teeth into place, eliminating the possibility of any unnecessary dental or sleep issues in the future.
“Dentists are often the first to recognize the signs of obstructive sleep apnea in children, as skeletal and soft tissue growth both affect the size and shape of the upper airway.”
Childhood Development and Sleep
Sleep is arguably the most essential part of everyday life, especially during the stages of early development. There are two sleep stages: Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) and Rapid Eye Movement (REM). NREM is sometimes called "quiet" sleep. Deep states of NREM sleep increases blood supply to the muscles, restores energy, and releases essential hormones for growth and development. Tissue growth and repair also occur during this state. REM sleep, also known as "active" sleep, is the dreaming stage of sleep. The brain becomes active, and the body becomes immobile, with irregular breathing and heart rates.
A healthy sleeping schedule is imperative to ensure proper physical, mental, and emotional development. It can be difficult or even impossible for children with disordered sleep to get enough sleep. At least one study has found that six-year-old children with a pattern of short sleep duration at age 2.5 had higher levels of specific cognitive deficits and hyperactivity in comparison to their peers. Though research in this field is still emerging, the existing literature makes it evident that there is a relationship between sleep and childhood development.
Questions Answered on This Page
People Also Ask
How Parents Can Help
Though nothing can replace the counsel of an experienced HealthyStart sleep dentist, there are many things parents can do to help improve their child’s sleeping habits. For starters, a child’s sleeping environment should be as comfortable and free from distractions as possible. Avoid screen time or any upsetting material within two hours of bedtime. Beds should be reserved for sleeping. Children should not be allowed to watch television, reading, or playing video games while in bed.
Adding soothing sounds into a child’s bedtime routine may also help them relax. If this is too much stimulation, reducing noise may be a better option. Parents should also try to get their children used to the dark since light can further disrupt the sleeping environment. Cooler room temperatures can also aid sleep, as can warm baths. Some people also find that aromatherapy helps.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can my child’s sleep apnea cause them to develop other health problems?
A. Yes. If left untreated, sleep apnea can increase your child’s risk for a wide array of cardiovascular conditions. These include high blood pressure, hypertrophy of the right side of the heart, and low blood flow to the lungs. It may also heighten your child’s risk of depression, speech problems, and poor physical growth.
Q. Is there a correlation between sleep disorders and ADD/ADHD?
A. Yes. Research shows that children with moderate to severe sleep problems are more than 12 times likely to develop ADD/ADHD. However, it is not uncommon for HealthyStart patients to experience a significant improvement in mathematics, science, and spelling.
Q. My child has a perfectly aligned set of baby teeth. Will this change as they grow permanent teeth?
A. It is possible. Perfectly aligned baby teeth often do not leave adequate room for the larger permanent teeth to erupt. As such, their permanent teeth may need to adjust to fit. Using a HealthyStart appliance can help ensure that your child’s teeth come in straight while naturally expanding the arch. Additionally, when the teeth grow in straight, the fiber bundles anchoring them to the mouth will leave little room for relapse — meaning the teeth will likely stay straight throughout adulthood.
Q. Can my child grow out of their orthodontic condition
A. Unfortunately, it is very unlikely for children’s teeth to correct themselves. Many times, their conditions often worsen, while viable treatment options narrow as they age. Early intervention can help fix these problems before they become more severe.
Q. What if my child is allergic to or irritated by the HealthyStart appliance?
A. HealthyStart appliances are customized to fit every patient’s mouth. Let us know if your child has any allergies before we create the device, and we will do our best to accommodate these needs. The appliances are also specifically designed to be bite-proof to ensure maximum efficacy.
- Healthy Start Dentistry
- Healthy Start® dentistry is a non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical system of opening the airway and fixing crooked teeth without braces.
- Non-Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
- Non-rapid eye movement sleep, or NREM sleep, is a stage of sleep where breathing and heart rate are slow and regular and dreams do not occur.
- Oral-Systemic Link
- The oral-systemic link refers to the link between oral health and systemic health.
- Orthodontics is the specialty branch of dentistry that deals with preventing and correcting teeth and jaw irregularities.
- Pediatric Dentistry
- Pediatric dentistry is the specialty branch of dentistry that focuses exclusively on children.
- Primary Teeth
- Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, are a patient’s first set of teeth.
- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep
- Rapid Eye Movement sleep, or REM sleep, is the stage of sleep where the eyes move rapidly and most dreams occur.
- Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
- Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, typically causes pain in front of the ear(s) due to abnormal functioning of the temporomandibular joint.
- Sleep Apnea
- Sleep apnea is a common condition in which the patient intermittently stops breathing in their sleep.
- Sleep Dentistry
- Sleep dentistry is the branch of dentistry that deals with treating sleep disorders through oral appliances and other dental devices.
Call Us Today
If you live in the Fort Lauderdale area, call (954) 519-7792 for an appointment in our Fort Lauderdale office.
Helpful Related Links
- American Dental Association (ADA). Glossary of Dental Clinical Terms. 2022