Is your child snoring at night? Do they breathe with their mouth open? Do they appear to have an elongated face? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, it could be that they are suffering from an obstructed airway that is inhibiting their ability to breathe and rest easy at night. In this article, you will learn more about the importance of a proper airway in Katy and how it can impact your child’s oral growth and facial development over time.
The Role of Your Child’s Airway
Did you know the way your child’s face develops is largely based on the way they breathe, what they eat, and how their facial muscles move and function? If you’re particularly curious about the connection between your child’s ability to breathe freely and how it impacts the symmetry of their face, here is a bit of information to consider:
The Development of the Face
When an obstruction develops within the nasal passage, your child will do what is natural, which is to begin breathing through their mouth. “Mouth breathing” can lead to changes occurring in their facial structure that can cause abnormalities and problems as they grow.
For example, their face might become elongated, narrow, or sunken, their lower jaw may sit further back, and their eyes may develop dark circles. All these features can be attributed to how the tongue is positioned (lying flat in the lower jaw) when your child breaths through their mouth. As this continues, the lower and upper jaw are affected, causing issues in supporting your child’s posture, nasal airway, eye sockets, and body alignment.
Blocked Nasal Passage
If the cause of your child’s inability to breathe freely is due to enlarged adenoids or tonsils, you can expect them to experience more problems with snoring and the potential for sleep apnea. Not only can they block the nasal passageway, but they can make it difficult for air to flow freely, resulting in frequent interruptions while your child tries to sleep as well as waking and gasping for air throughout the night.
Sleep Disordered Breathing
Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is much more common than you think, but inadequate treatment or a lapse in identifying symptoms can lead to the development of sleep apnea. As a result, your child may develop behavioral and social issues as well as developmental concerns. Each time they are interrupted because of a lack of air flowing freely through their airway, it prevents their brain from recharging, which is necessary to ensure positive actions.
What Signs to Look For
If you notice your child regularly suffering from one or more of these symptoms, make sure to contact their physician and/or pediatric dentist:
- Breathing through the mouth
- Chronic sinus congestion or allergies
- Sore throat
- Loud snoring
- Teeth grinding
- Tongue- or lip-tie
- Changes in head posture
- Chapped lips and/or dry mouth
- Red and swollen gums
- Difficulty swallowing
- Ear infections
- Deviated septum
How a Dentist Can Help
You might assume a physician is the only expert who can readily identify and treat an airway obstruction, but the truth is a pediatric dentist is capable of detecting signs early on during regular visits. Through a series of questions and evaluation of your child’s facial structure and oral development, they can determine if there is a problem occurring throughout the upper airways. With early detection and diagnosis, their pediatric dentist in Katy will be able to formulate a method of treatment that will address abnormalities and put their oral growth and development back on track, avoiding many of the most common problems such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and even crooked or crowded teeth.
Knowing what to watch for is key to helping your little one breathe easier and rest more soundly at night. By seeking professional treatment, your child can avoid costly and timely treatments in the future and instead, enjoy a healthier, happier aesthetic.
About the Authors
As a board-certified pediatric dentist in Katy, TX, Dr. Adeel Khan is all-too-familiar with the common problems that can develop as a child grows. Airway issues can negatively impact oral growth and facial development, resulting in years spent treating tooth misalignment, chronic jaw pain, and other serious dental and orthodontic problems. Fortunately, he and his team can work with parents to identify symptoms early on and start treatment to mitigate the need for more complex procedures down the road. If you believe your child is suffering from a blocked airway, visit our website or call (832) 789-8348.