Sleep disordered breathing often has its roots in a child’s early years. Dr. Ronald Shelley explains how the problem develops in this report.
Children who have sleep disordered breathing have compromised airways. And a compromised airway is the result of underdeveloped jaws. Poor growth is not genetic, says Dr. Shelley. It is actually acquired. And it is most often linked to a lack of breast feeding.
Breast feeding a baby encourages proper swallowing habits and a strong tongue what will guide proper jaw growth and shape. Bottle feeding and the use of pacifiers will create a narrow, constricted jaw with a high-vaulted palate. Ideally, the tongue should rest high up in the palate. The goal is a wide, dome-shaped dental arch and a broad, low palate.
The upper jaw forms the walls and floor of the nose. When the upper jaw is narrow and the palate is high, the nasal cavity is constricted. This makes it difficult for a child to breathe through the nose.
Soft foods and processed foods that are given to children can aggravate the problem and help contribute to weak tongues and poor oral facial muscles. The muscles shape the bones. Not paying attention to good habits can let a child develop the high vaulted palate and constricted jaw that lead to a compromised airway.
Mouth breathing, snoring, and swollen adenoids and tonsils are signs of a compromised airway. Also, the tongue will probably be low and the teeth crowded and crooked. Crossbites, overbites, and other bite issues can indicate compromised airways.
Signs of sleep disordered breathing can include restless sleep, daytime drowsiness, ADD and ADHD, aggressive behavior with defiance and anger, bed wetting, lower IQ, chronic allergies, difficulty in school, and nightmares.
The solution to the problem is to treat the underdeveloped jaw. Dr. Shelley’s office uses the Perfect Start system of appliances that make use of the natural growth of a child. The system guides the teeth down, forward, and wide. The sleep disordered breathing problems will go away.
Dr. Ronald Shelley practices with Arrowhead Lakes Dentistry, Glendale, Arizona. Dr. Shelley received his DMD (Doctor of Dental Medicine), with honors, in 1979. In 1994, he relocated to Glendale, Arizona and opened the present office March 1998 and presently shares his time at Arrowhead Lakes Dentistry with teaching the next generation of dentists at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine as adjunct faculty. In 2014 two honors came his way; he became a diplomat of the American Sleep and Breathing Academy and was awarded the Lifelong Learning and Service Recognition from the Academy of General Dentistry.