Updated: Jan 27
No one knows your children better than you, which is why parents are the first line of defense in children's oral-facial airway health. Here is a quick checklist you can use to evaluate your child to see if they might be at risk of a possible airway disorder.
While your child is sitting watching tv or in the car, does your child:
Suck on his or her lips?
Breath with an open mouth?
Hold his or her tongue between their teeth?
Make noise while breathing?
Have a hard time sitting still?
While your child eats, does your child:
Stop breathing through the mouth between mouthfuls?
Stick his or her tongue out when swallowing or drinking?
Make a lot of noise while chewing?
Take breaths while drinking?
While your child speaks, does your child:
Talk too fast or too slowly?
Stop speaking to breathe through his or her mouth?
Have a lisp?
While your child sleeps, does your child:
Sleep with his or her mouth open?
Toss and turn throughout the night?
Wake up frequently?
Wet the bed frequently?
Report having nightmares frequently?
Grind his or her teeth?
Have trouble waking up and have dark circles under his or her eyes?
Wake up drooling or with dry saliva on his or her face?
** Checklist resource provided by Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic by Sandra Kahn and Paul R. Ehrlich **
WHY IS ORAL HEALTH FOR TODDLERS IMPORTANT
It is important for the overall health of your child to have healthy teeth. Proper dental hygiene starts when your child is a toddler and can even be introduced as a baby by rubbing your baby's gums, discouraging them from thumb sucking, and strengthening your child's jaw muscles through breastfeeding.
Good dental care sets good habits for your child as he grows. Poor oral health can lead to infection, airway issues, and tooth decay and can contribute to long-term health issues as your child grows into adulthood.
These conditions are often caused by soft tissue dysfunction. Children with crooked teeth and abnormal facial and jaw development are already apparent by age 3 to 5. Genetics is often blamed for these changes, but incorrect mouth posture, prolonged thumb/pacifier habits, and reverse swallow are the actual causes of impaired craniofacial development.
By the age of 12, the face and jaw have completed their growth. An underdeveloped jaw can lead to compromises in function, esthetics, airway, posture, and compressed temporomandibular joints when teeth are straightened.
If you notice several of these symptoms in your child, contact your pediatrician or pediatric airway dentist for further evaluation.