Should you be concerned?

Throat Anatomy

Orthodontics has long been concerned with the growth and development of the face as it relates to the facial profile and the correction of skeletal and dental malocclusion. It has only recently been considered relevant to the formation of the naso-oropharyngeal airway.

From an anatomical perspective, the maxilla, soft palate, and mandible work in synchrony to form the anterior boundaries of the airway. Retroposition of the bones relative to the face narrows the airway and creates the risk for obstruction.

Did you know that at least 10% of all children struggle with obstructive sleep apnea? In many cases, orthodontic treatment can help your child breathe easier. Come in for a quick 3D x-ray so we can see what may be contributing to your child’s feelings of sluggishness.

Pediatric Orthodontia

Orthodontic treatments for children are now being explored to help enlarge — or at least prevent constriction of — the airway in a more natural and permanent way.

Thoughtful, in-depth analysis of you or your child’s anatomy, breathing, physiology, and neurology is the only way to accurately plan for the best treatment options. We can provide sleep appliances or alter patients’ anatomy in ways that may provide a long-term solution.

When you bring your child in for a visit, we will:

  • Identify the main determinants of airway resistance.
  • Evaluate the involvement of the airflow’s velocity and turbulence.
  • Identify some possible changes in daytime breathing behaviors.
  • Review potential airway-related craniofacial dysfunctions.

Coping with Childhood OSA

Orthodontists can screen patients for obstructive sleep apnea and other breathing disorders, no matter the child’s age.

Dr. Crutchfield’s training and experience in monitoring facial growth and development give him the ability to identify sleep-related breathing disorders in patients. He has been trained to guide the growth of various facial structures in younger patients.

Surprisingly, almost half of all patients with obstructive sleep apnea have abnormalities in the bony structure around the airway, which could be corrected with early orthodontic treatment. This treatment, which includes expanding the upper jaw or upper arch, advancing the mandible, and otherwise modifying the bony structure of the face, could help manage the condition. This can also eliminate clenching and grinding of teeth during sleep or other habits that are associated with childhood sleep apnea.

Dr. Crutchfield can also track mandibular advancement, maxillomandibular advancement, and slow or rapid maxillary expansion (RME/SME) which can be combined with orthodontics to expand the airway to help reduce resistance in the nasal airway, normalizing tongue position, and reducing or eliminating OSA symptoms.

Not ready to consider braces for your child? ​We can also use oral appliance therapy (OAT) to improve breathing patterns for sleep apnea treatment in some patients. Let us show you the options available to help you make the most informed decision for your child’s health and development.