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3 Minutes Read

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) - Silently Smothering Our Children 

Did you know that up to 12% of children as early as age 2 are suffering from Obstructive Sleep Apnea? OSA presenting itself in our children occurs when a child intermittently stops breathing during sleep due to airway blockage from the tongue and enlarged adenoids and tonsils. Physicians have used multiple therapies for children: medications (steroids, antibiotics, decongestants), surgical removal of adenoids and tonsils, CPAP machine, and mouth appliances that posture the lower jaw forward. Unfortunately, these treatments do not create a long-term solution to resolve the underline issue of the narrow, small, and recursive jaw bones.


Is Evolution at play here?


Historically, the human population in the era of Cavemen had much more prominent, stronger, and anteriorly positioned jaws. Studies have shown this was mainly because cavemen had to tear and chew large pieces of meat and whole vegetables. Consequently, the spacing between their teeth left plenty of room for the tongue and a sizeable nasal airway in their jaw. Over time humans have learned to cook and soften foods and consume more refined foods, hence using their jaws less. Eventually, through evaluation, it could be determined that our jaws are becoming smaller, leaving less room for our teeth, tongue, adenoids, tonsils, and smaller airways.


After learning these astonishing facts, how does this affect people? At Mergen Orthodontics, we will provide a complete guide.


Obstructive Sleep Apnea: How does it Occur?


As mentioned above, it’s important to understand how this evolution has affected our human development. We use our jaws less, so they do not develop as much. The upper jaw is the floor of the nasal cavity, so if the upper jaw is narrow, the bottom of the nasal cavity is narrower, making it harder for us to breathe through our noses. The result is that we are forced to breathe through our mouths. These factors then increase infection and the size of the adenoids and tonsils, decreasing the airway even more. 


When the lower and upper jaw bones are narrow and back farther, this limits the space for our tongue. The tongue is now pushed even farther back into the airway. During waking hours, we can compensate by actively forcing our tongue forward, holding our mouth open, and breathing through our mouth. When we sleep and have a narrow nasal airway, we cannot breathe through our nose; the tongue relaxes and falls back into the airway more. We start to suffocate or stop breathing.  When this happens, our body responds by waking up and gasping for air by pushing our tongue forward. This process is known as Obstructive Sleep Apnea.


Relying on Mergen Orthodontics to Get the Best Treatment


A properly trained and experienced orthodontist can provide early orthodontic care to promote jaw growth, increasing normal airway and breathing function. This treatment also helps to make more room for permanent teeth and a better bite in the future.  All of this also positively influences proper facial development, during this rapid growth stage. 


Hence, At Mergen Orthodontist, we specialize in children’s airway development and provide treatment early between ages 6-8 to promote proper jaw growth. Ultimately, we ensure that early treatment will be life-changing for the health of your child.

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