“The Nose Knows”

Having just returned from a Johns Hopkins/All Children’s Hospital Pediatric Sleep Conference, I once again, had some measure of pride in my orthodontic profession’s contribution to the understanding of facial development that is now being medically accepted as significant to quality of life. The very things that have been such important orthodontic considerations for at least 100 years are just now gaining traction with Pediatric Child Development Specialists. For far too long Dental and Medical Professionals (Cleft Palate Teams excepted) separated themselves from interdisciplinary team approaches to comprehensive health care especially for children. Frankly, most medical evaluations never considered dental implications to disorders and dysfunction.

Fortunately, that is changing as evidenced by meetings designed to bring together everyone in the health care loop, each having a specific contribution to insure quality care and dentistry has become a welcomed partner not an orphaned step child of health care.

Ideal facial development depends on the nose. Its proper development and function is the driver for how we will look and flourish as an adult. Any event, which adversely affects airflow through our nose, creates unwanted consequences to the growing face and optimum healthy development. “A” is for airway and it is top priority because any insult such as asthma, allergies, inflammation of tonsils or adenoids, or physical restriction or obstruction will set up many unintended consequences. Case in point: one cannot be a mouth breather and be as healthy as a nose breather nor will a mouth breather’s teeth ever stay aligned. Mouth breathers will have more difficulty in school performance. Quite simply nasal breathing brings more oxygen to the brain so that we are more alert

For the nose to work properly, the maxilla (upper jaw) has to be physically wide enough for adequate airflow. The roof of the mouth is the floor of the nose and our biggest problem in orthodontics’ is that upper jaws are too narrow which means nasal airways are restricted. We see this so clearly at age 6 – 7 and many kids already have signs and symptoms of poor facial development and inadequate breathing.

Your pediatrician can tell you all the reasons why the upper jaw is not developing properly and the nose is restricted while the orthodontist can easily expand the upper dental arch so that the nose benefits and breathing normalized. Sleep, health, behavior, and learning can all benefit when the nose knows it is doing its job.

Call 822-3156 for a complimentary exam if you have a child who is a mouth breather, snores, has sleeping issues, or is sleepy during the day. It is an important discovery that you and your friends should be aware of.

John B. Harrison DDS, MSc

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