Pediatric Development of Airway

    For Patients

    Pediatric Development of Airway

    Did you know that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends any child who snores have a diagnostic sleep study? It is not normal for your child to snore and snoring alone can cause delays in cognitive development.

    The human body requires an uninterrupted flow of oxygen to fully develop and rejuvenate from the previous day’s activities. Growth hormones are released during deep sleep thus making it essential to have proper breathing to prevent impaired or delayed development.

    In 2012 the American Academy of Pediatric Medicine established a  “CLINICAL PRACTICE GUIDELINE” regarding sleep. This directive suggests that all pediatricians who find a particular sleep issue with any of their patients should follow the academy’s guidelines as outlined. The following statements are the first two directives for children who present with sleep-disordered breathing problems.   

    Recommendations for the diagnosis of OSAS:

    • All children should be screened for snoring.
    • Complex high-risk patients should be referred to a specialist.
    • Patients with cardiorespiratory failure cannot await elective evaluation.
    • Diagnostic evaluation is useful in discriminating between primary snoring and OSAS, the gold standard being polysomnography.

    This is very informative because it suggests that any child who makes noises, such as snoring or even grinding of their teeth, should be considered for sleep-disordered breathing. Unfortunately, this directive is poorly followed by pediatricians.  Many parents have detected that their children have sleep issues oftentimes before the pediatrician does.  It is important to understand that an early diagnosis of these issues can be valuable in treatment.  This early intervention can thwart the normal trajectory that these airway problems can cause.  As we engage in “orthopedically redeveloping the airway” of these children, we can assist in preventing these problems from being present in adulthood.  By redeveloping the architecture of the airway it will allow proper air movement through the nose into one’s lungs.  This allows for proper nasal breathing and avoidance of mouth breathing.  To be clear, it is not normal for a child to mouth breath while asleep or awake and this symptom alone can suggest many concerns for the growth and development of a child.

    Many symptoms that might occur in children that have airway issues might include:

    • Delayed development
    • Impaired intelligence
    • Memory loss and depression
    • Weight gain and obesity

    A common problem that is present with these sleep issues is something called Sleep Apnea or Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA).  It is interesting to note that there is a 70% overlap between snoring and apnea in children.  It is my belief that apnea for adults starts when they are in their youth.  Certainly, there are other factors that can influence OSA such as weight gain but my thoughts are focused on the structural changes that are occurring as children are developing.  One activity that influences the architecture of our mouth is mouth breathing.  It has become an epidemic in our day and age.  The evidence is clear that the oral volume of our mouths is becoming smaller.  These changes are not evolutional because they have only developed over the last several hundred years.  The underdeveloped maxilla can cause our tongue to live in the back of the mouth instead of the palate where it should normally reside.  As the tongue finds its way back to the oral pharyngeal area, it can impede our ability to receive air which can cause apnea or cessation of breathing.  The backward movement of our tongue is a result of the oral environment getting smaller as a result of structural changes.  One interesting point about OSA is that it is a nocturnal activity and does not occur when we are awake.

    Sleep can also result in behavioral issues related to:

    • Decreased performance/learning problems in school
    • Hyperactivity
    • Aggressiveness
    • Social isolation, withdrawal

    At the TMJ & Sleep Centre, our focus is to structurally redevelop the airway using orthodontic appliances.  One difference that sets us apart from others is we try to develop the oral environment in 3 dimensions.  As this redevelopment occurs we have seen apnea in children reduce.  The late Dr. Christian Guilleminault, MD, who many consider the pinnacle of sleep medicine,  suggested that the primary goal of airway treatment for children is to have them become nasal breathers.

    Monitoring your Child

    • Does your child wake in the morning in the same position they went to sleep in?
    • In the morning, are your child’s bed sheets nicely placed or strewn all about the bed?
    • Does your child have dark circles under their eyes?
    • Does your child seem inattentive?
    • Does your child grind their teeth at night?

    In addition to snoring, other symptoms might include:

    • Tooth grinding
    • Mouth breathing
    • Restlessness during sleep
    • Sleeping in odd positions
    • Periods of not breathing
    • Night terrors
    • Recurrent ear infections
    • Night sweats
    • Mood changes
    • Poor concentration
    • Bed wetting
    • Headaches
    • Frequent infections

      We Can Help Your Child Find Breathing Relief

      Thank you for visiting TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Arizona. If you believe your child may be experiencing sleep apnea or related sleep issues, we’re here to help. Our experienced team is dedicated to improving the quality of life for children and their families by addressing sleep disorders. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for expert guidance and to schedule an appointment. Your child’s well-being is our top priority, and we look forward to assisting you on their journey to better sleep and overall health. Contact us today to take the first step toward a brighter, healthier future.

      Learn more about what our patients have to say

      about the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Arizona

      Joan L.

      5.0 ★★★★★

      "I can't thank Dr. Sims and the team at the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre of Arizona enough! After years of struggling with TMJ pain and disrupted sleep, I found the relief I desperately needed here. Dr. Sims' expertise and personalized care made all the difference. I'm finally pain-free and getting the restful sleep I deserve. This center truly transformed my life!"

      Mitchell H.

      5.0 ★★★★★

      "My journey with the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre has been nothing short of remarkable. Dr. Sims is not just a skilled doctor but also a compassionate healer. The treatment I received for my TMJ issues and sleep disturbances was tailored to my unique needs. Thanks to Dr. Sims, I wake up refreshed every day, and my jaw pain is a distant memory."

      Samantha D.

      5.0 ★★★★★

      "Dr. Sims and the team at the TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre are simply outstanding! From the moment I walked through their doors, I felt cared for and supported. Dr. Sims' expertise in TMJ and sleep therapy is unmatched, and the results speak for themselves. Thanks to their dedicated approach, I now enjoy a pain-free jaw and peaceful, restorative sleep."