What You Need to Know If Your Child Snores, Grinds or Is a Mouth Breather.
“Sleeping like a baby” is how we describe a perfect night’s sleep — restful and restorative. For children, sleep is a time of growth and brain development.
But many newborns and children aren’t sleeping well and, as a result, are missing out on that restorative sleep that lets them grow and develop to their genetic potentials.
Snoring, mouth breathing, and grinding and clenching the teeth are all signs of sleep-disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnea in children.
How Does Mouth Breathing Hurt My Child?
While it may seem harmless, mouth breathing affects how your child develops, your child’s behavior and personality, as well as the adult that your child grows up to be.
Most healthcare professionals, including your doctor, might tell you not to worry about mouth breathing and insist that your child will “grow out of it.”
But the truth is, mouth breathing can have devastating effects on the development of the face and airway.
How Mouth Breathing Changes Facial and Oral Development
When nasal breathing is blocked, facial and dental development become abnormal.
In both human and animal studies, when nasal breathing is blocked, untreated mouth breathing leads to development of long, narrow faces with crooked teeth, receded jaw, and future TMD and headache issues.
But it’s not just about looks. When the jaw and airway don’t fully develop, the airway can become easily obstructed during sleep.
During the complete muscle relaxation of deep stage sleep, the muscles around the airway also relax and collapse. The airway is a tight space, often made tighter by large tonsils and adenoids in both children and infants.
If the airway becomes obstructed, the brain must bounce out of deep sleep and into a lighter stage of sleep in order to grind and clench to push the jaw forward to allow for breathing again.
Grinding and clenching are the body’s way of reopening a collapsed airway during sleep to start breathing again. This is why grinding and clenching are the new red flag for catching sleep apnea early on.
How Mouth Breathing Impacts Behavior and Personality
Interrupting deep sleep like this impacts development.
Deep sleep is when Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released, which is essential to a child’s brain development and long bone growth. Once deep sleep is interrupted, HGH stops being secreted. Not having enough HGH stunts your growth and brain development.
Deep sleep is the body’s chance to restore, repair, and heal from the stress of the day. It’s a time of memory consolidation and cementing learning. Hormones that control appetite and other critical functions are regulated and stabilized during this stage.
In a child who is snoring, grinding and clenching, or breathing through the mouth, the brain is not able to rest and sleep is not restorative.
Children who are deprived of deep sleep are often hyperactive as a result of adrenaline used to compensate for sleepiness. They often aren’t able to achieve their academic potential because their brains and bodies aren’t at their best in this damaged, deep sleep-deprived state. They’re often diagnosed with ADHD and other behavioral issues. They have lowered immune systems, poor health, and can be overweight.
Strategies for Parents
Make sure your child can breathe through her nose with ease.
Make sure your child has seen a dentist by age one. Make sure that this dentist is concerned with recognizing mouth breathing and its implications.
Make sure your child is treated for allergies. Allergies can force children into mouth breathing.
Make sure that your child’s diet and environment aren’t contributing to allergies.
Ask your dentist if your child needs a referral to an orthodontist if he’s mouth breathing.
Family and Cosmetic Dentistry
Do Crest White Strips Work?
How Crest White Strips Work
Whitening strips are small pieces of a flexible plastic called polyethylene. Each flexible strip is coated in a whitening gel that contains hydrogen peroxide or carbamide peroxide.
You take each strip and mold it around your teeth — one strip for the top, and one strip for the bottom. The peroxide gel in the strips is now held up against the teeth, so it can seep into the teeth to lighten them.
Problems with White Strips
Gum damage: The chemical reaction that occurs to whiten your teeth can damage the gums. This is why it’s essential to make sure that whitening strips never touch your gums. This is hard to do, but it’s possible. Try cutting the strips so they don’t overlap with or touch your gums — the strips should touch only your teeth.
Yellow spots: Strips are one dimensional, but teeth are three dimensional. This creates a problem when it comes to getting results you like. Strips don’t get into the in-between spaces or the curved bottoms of teeth, so you often get an effect where the center of the tooth is white, but at the edges where the tooth curves, it’s yellow or gray. These yellow spots become more pronounced with white strips because the color difference becomes greater.
Tooth damage: When a dentist isn’t there to monitor whitening treatment, I get a little nervous. It is possible to overdo it and damage your teeth. Teeth aren’t like hair and nails that you can color. When teeth lose their function, all hell can start to break lose. Making mistakes with strips could cause you shooting tooth pain or make you sensitive to your favorite foods. See your dentist every six months for regular check-ups. Make sure you don’t have any cavities or gum disease before you start using strips.
Have you used whitening strips? I’d love to hear from you in the comments. What was your experience? What advice would you share with others?
Ask the Dentist
How often do I need to get my teeth cleaned? Should the “every six months” rule apply to everyone?
How often do you get your oil changed? Every 3,000 miles? Or is it every 6,000 miles? Thanks to computers, most cars today will make that determination for you based upon the type of driver and the temperature extremes the car has to endure.
So why is it that you have been told to see the dentist every 6 months (or every 3 months if you have gum disease)? How can it be so for every human, without the predictable variability of life styles and environmental triggers being a factor? Who says you have to see the dentist every 6 months?
Well, we do, us dentists. We, in our infinite wisdom have decided, as a group of health care professionals concerned for the health of our patients, that it is in your best interest to come see us every 6 months. Every person, whether you have good teeth or not, whether your gums are healthy or not, whether you build up a lot of plaque and tartar or not, whether you are the world’s best brusher and flosser, or not. That’s right, everyone needs to see the dentist every 6 months. And we certainly are not about to the reward the patients that brush and floss regularly because the rules are the rules…
Is this sounding ridiculous yet?
I hope so, because it is. Let’s first discuss the origin of this insanity, as risible as it may sound. Afterwards, we’ll arm you with the knowledge to make the right decision in your own case.
So are you a fast driver that drives in very cold weather or dusty conditions, or do you baby your car, warm it up every morning and drive like the owner of a Zamboni in an ice rink? How soon would your car’s onboard computer tell you to go in for service? And where (and when) did the profession of dentistry come up with that 6 month interval?
From Amos and Andy of course, a TV show from the 50s! I’m not joking. First a wildly popular radio show, a television adaptation ran on CBS-TV from 1951 until 1953, and continued in syndication though 1966. The show was sponsored by Pepsodent Tooth Powder. Toothpaste had not yet been invented (the procedure was to put some powder on the palm of your hand, wet your toothbrush, and touch the powder with your brush) and in those days going to see the dentist was not a routine activity. In fact, most people went to see a dentist when they needed an extraction or when they were in pain. The Pepsodent ad campaign was quite successful, and in an attempt to appease dentists and gain their recommendation, stated in the ad that in addition to brushing twice daily, that they see their dentist twice yearly (or every 6 months).
Yes, the ad men of Pepsodent (clearly “mad men”) are responsible for determining the frequency of your dental cleaning visits today!
Tartar and plaque form in the mouth at different rates. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a patient for a recall cleaning visit only to see them two weeks later for a scheduled filling and already see tartar forming on the teeth. I also have some patients that need to come in for a cleaning only every 12 months. When dentists polish the teeth, the pellicle (skin of the tooth) is removed, but will reappear in 3 days. The sticky biofilm (plaque) will then stick to the pellicle.
Home care is vital in determining this rate of buildup of the product that is partially responsible for gum disease. Good brushers and flossers (determined by the frequency and quality of doing so) of course will fare better and last longer before needing another cleaning. It is extremely important to remember that gum disease is 100% preventable, but once seen in the mouth it is not 100% curable, and is less than 100% arrestable. So patients (and dentist) need to be armed with methods that properly address and pay for this degree of infection.
And the plot thickens: The insurance companies prefer the “Amos and Andy gig” by a wide margin. They like the steadiness of the 6 month recall concept. It means they have their providers, the dentists that have joined their plan, doing periodontal work for prophy fees! The insurance companies are then able to essentially reduce the utilization of the plan, which in turn increases profits. In the mean time the patient is being undertreated and the dentist is either committing malpractice or committing financial suicide.
The Amos and Andy rubber stamp of the 6 month recall has allowed the insurance carriers (their actuaries) to accurately predict their risk (the outlay of cash to provide for the utilization of the plan). By this quantifying of gum disease into absolute terms, they then know how much to add (to the bottom line) for profit.
The dentist is seeing something completely different. She is seeing a huge group of patients (80%) that need more than just 6 month recalls. Sure, the dentist can bill for SRP (scaling and root planing, otherwise known as “a deep cleaning”). However, it does not provide for the patient that is not yet inflicted with the disease but exhibits patterns that need more aggressive attention to prevent the disease.
Preventing the disease is the better model medically and financially. However, the insurance model is willing to wait for the disease to appear, as the actuaries have calculated exactly how many patients will and will not have treatment. And yes, even how many dentists will dutifully treat this disease at an inappropriate and inadequate pay structure.
How much more can I stress the importance of treating — no — preventing gum disease? If I were sitting at a table with Obama, the federal health commissioner and the health insurance commissioner, I’d point out that pregnant women who have periodontal disease may be seven times more likely to have a baby that is born too early and too small. I’d then hand them a pencil and paper and have them calculate the cost of supporting preemies in this country (26 Billion dollars per year). I’d also like to remind you of what President Obama said about flossing.
So what do I recommend you do?
If you are a woman, get a clean bill of health before you conceive. Learn how to maintain that state of gum health. Your child’s health depends on it.
Seek out a more individualized treatment modality from your dentist in regards to your own unique periodontal issues. Disregard what your insurance is willing to pay. You may spend more or less initially, but in the long run you will save more money.
Write a letter to your personel/benefits department at work and copy them on this article. Force them to find a better plan before next year’s enrollment period that pays forward to reduce costs later.
Find a dentist that understands and agrees with what is written here, and plan to live your life with perfect dental health so as to make other aspects of your health, both mental and physical, much improved.
If you take one message home with you after reading this, please remember this: Gum disease is like a cancer. In the earliest form (gingivitis) it is curable. After that, it’s only possible to achieve remission.
Let your dentist help you to prevent gingivitis so that you never have to face living with regret for the rest of your life.
Gum disease is 100% preventable.
After all, the number one cause of gum disease is the predictable nature of humans. Just go ask the insurance companies.
Ask the dentist
Can Poor Dental Health Cause Dementia?
We’ve long known about the connection between poor oral health and dementia.
How can this be?
When we skip flossing, plaque builds up in and around the gums. The body responds to this plaque build-up the same way it responds to all other foreign invaders, like flu bugs and viruses — it sends out the troops, in the form of the immune system.
When your immune system is constantly activated like this, things go wrong in the body. Long term inflammation cause premature aging and disease.
Agents from that inflammation somehow, perhaps via the bloodstream, cause the brain to respond in a way that can lead to dementia.
Poor dental health increased the likelihood of dementia by 30% to 40% over a 32-year period, regardless of cardiovascular status, according to a report at the International Society of Vascular Behavioral and Cognitive Disorders.
This latest study is the first to actually pinpoint bacteria from the mouth in the brains of people with dementia.
The study examined 10 brain samples of people with dementia and 10 brain samples of people without dementia. In four of the 10 brains, the gum disease bacteria Porphyromonas gingivalis was present.
The theory is that when the brain is repeatedly exposed to bacteria and/or debris from gums, the immune response by the body that reacts to the diseased gums may lead to nerve cell death and possibly memory loss.
The connection isn’t fully understood and more research is required to understand if P. gingivalis will be able to be used as a marker, via a simple blood test, to predict the development of Alzheimer’s disease in at-risk people.
According to senior research fellow Dr. Sim Singhrao, PhD, further research will be needed to understand if the presence of these bacteria in the brain actually contributes to dementia, since it’s possible that later-stage Alzheimer’s is what causes reduced oral hygiene.
What to Do
Know that nothing replaces flossing. Even the best brushing habits cannot compensate for neglecting to floss.
Learn about the psychology of flossing and what you can do to make it a habit for good.
Get a demo of proper flossing technique.
If you can’t stand flossing, learn what you can do instead.
Ask the dentist.