As your children reach their teenage years, you may notice their desire to become more independent, thereby spending less time with the family. This behavior is typical in teenagers, but what if your child’s personality shift is more drastic than that? What if your child is beginning to respond to simple requests with anger or is feeling tired throughout the day, making it difficult to focus on routine tasks or participate in social settings and academics?
These types of behavioral changes may be attributed to impaired airway clearance—or more specifically sleep disordered breathing.
Airway Clearance & Sleep Disordered Breathing
Airway clearance is the ability to maintain a clean environment in the airways. As your child grows, it’s important for them to develop proper breathing habits, as constricted airways can lead to significant oral and behavioral health issues that cause inadequate orofacial development: “Studies have shown that poor sleep quality and/or quantity in children are associated with a host of problems, including academic, behavioral, developmental and social difficulties, weight abnormalities, and other health problems” (The Breathe Institute).
Sleep disordered breathing is a condition characterized by repeated episodes of either hypopnea (shallow breathing) or apnea (not breathing) occurring during sleep: “When a child’s airway is… obstructed in any way, the child will struggle to receive enough oxygen during the night, wake-up or change position to breathe, causing fragmented and interrupted sleep,” (The Berkshire Center for Children’s Dental Wellness & Airway Orthodontics). If your teen’s breathing is disrupted while sleeping, the body thinks it’s choking, which leads to increasing heart rate, blood pressure, and arousal of the brain.
For teenagers, restful sleep is essential to the growth and changes their bodies are undergoing.
Signs of Sleep Disordered Breathing
According to The Breathe Institute, potential symptoms and consequences of untreated sleep disordered breathing in children and teens can include:
- Teeth grinding
- Mouth breathing
- Cardiovascular difficulties
- Difficulty swallowing
- Dark circles under the eyes
- ADD/ADHD like behavior
- Frequent ear and upper respiratory infections
- Swollen tonsils and adenoids
- Severe allergies or asthma
Could Your Teenager Benefit from Airway Focused Dentistry?
To learn more about the symptoms associated with airway focused dentistry and the success rate of airway orthodontics treatment for teens, watch Finding Conner Deegan, an informative video created by the American Academy of Physiological Medicine & Dentistry (AAPMD).
For more information about airway orthodontics or to schedule an appointment, contact Dakota Dental today.