“I’m FOUR years old!” When I hear these words from one of our patients, it leads to a specific focus for a portion of my dental examination. At age four we’ve got small bodies and the potential for HUGE tonsils and adenoids. It is at this age that many children begin to show signs of a compromised airway. In some cases normal easy breathing through the nose is simply out of the question. Kids often enter a phase where their sleep cycle is disrupted. Occasionally parents report things like restless sleeping, snoring, tooth grinding and bed wetting. In the mouth we begin to see signs of acid erosion on the teeth secondary to gastric reflux.
Historically, the response to these observations has changed. In many cases the pediatric team will opt for continued observation. And indeed, nearly half of these kids will mature out of these problems. The body gets bigger as the tonsilar and adenoid mass begins to shrink, the obstruction is lessened and the child breathes more freely. But what about the other half of these kids?
Today there is a rising movement toward a 3-prong immediate response when we see these signs and symptoms in four-year-old kids. First comes a referral to a pediatric otolaryngologist for evaluation of the tonsils and adenoids. Second is referral to an orthodontist for evaluation of the dental arch size and consideration of palatal expansion. Third is a referral to a myofunctional therapist who can work with kids to encourage nose breathing with a closed mouth, and proper swallowing instincts. Treatment at this early age holds the potential to ensure balanced craniofacial growth and development, as well as an unobstructed airway throughout life.
How are your kids sleeping?
Dr. Davis is especially good with kids. And his staff? Helpful, compassionate, and caring. They take care of business for you. Thumbs up. 10 on a scale of 5.