It’s allergy season…how are your children breathing? Is it allergies, or is it something else?
It’s April, and Spring allergy season is well underway in Kent County, Delaware. This month’s blog post is looking at breathing in our younger patients from an anatomic perspective.
A recent study published (Iwasaki et al., American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics; February 2013 Vol 143 Issue 2, pgs. 235-245) by researchers at Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan demonstrated the benefits of orthodontic expansion therapy for younger patients. The purpose of the study was to clarify the effect of orthodontic expansion therapy on the position of the tongue and the airway space in children with nasal airway blockage.
The study included patients ages 9 to 11 years old who had a Class II jaw relationship with no previous orthodontic treatment, no jaw discrepancies, and no enlarged adenoids or tonsils. They were divided into two groups; a control group and a group who received expansion therapy. The airway volume was measured in four areas before and after expansion for both groups; the mouth, in the nasal area, upper throat (retropalatal) and lower throat (oropharyngeal).
After expansion, the measurements showed the mouth airway region decreased significantly for the control group, whereas the three other areas increased. In the control group, two areas increased in volume, and two areas did not change. Overall there was no significant difference for mouth airway volume between the two groups after orthodontic expansion.
The effect of orthodontic expansion is this: the tongue improvement in posture and going to a higher position in the mouth. But in some patients, the low tongue posture did not improve because the nasal obstruction remained even after orthodontic expansion.
So, for our OSL patients who present for treatment (which may include expansion therapy): Orthodontic expansion enlarges the airway both with and without improvement in nasal obstruction. Some patients will need additional intervention, and we will continue to refer for allergy, or ENT evaluations.
To our patients and friends of OSL – here’s to a great spring, and many good nights sleep…
See you next month!