Inside the Tornado: Healthy Start

Photo on 10-27-15 at 11.43 PM2

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

We are moving and shaking at McFarlane Dental. The title of Geoffrey Moore’s “Inside the Tornado,” is what it feels like to be trying to stay as sharp as a tack in our ever-changing world.

Here is 1 of the most recent improvements we have made to our practice: 1. We have added new services: namely “Healthy Start”.

The Healthy Start program is an intervention to help children develop a normal arch, a normal bite pattern, and a normal airway. There is a link between prolonged thumb-sucking, pacifier use, palatal development, maxillo-facial development, airway insufficiency, ADHD, school performance and bed wetting.

The goal of Healthy Start is to break the habits that lead to poor development. Thumb sucking and finger sucking lead to a vaulted palate, which can be seen for the rest of a person’s life. A class II (Angle classification) bite is a malocclusion, of which the cranio-facial development can often be pointed back to a poorly formed airway. This airway development is more noted in babies who are bottle fed, and who use a pacifier. If a child has chronic sinusitis, they are likely to rarely breathe through their nose. In a side view of their face they will often have a maxillo-facial midface insufficiency; this is a direct result of how bones form. The airway is based on muscle usage. When muscles are used to open the nasal airway, the bones develop around them. So, allergies (and/or inflamed tonsils and adenoids) really do affect your child in a permanent and lasting way, especially if they are ignored.

Further, if a child does not use their nasal airway, they are likely to develop a vertical growth pattern, a thinner and longer face. This facial pattern often accompanies an anterior open bite, and a vaulted palate. When a child’s nasal airway is blocked due to a narrow palate, which does not allow normal post-nasal airway development, then, the child suffers from a myriad of normative social issues: daytime hyperactivity, and bed wetting. When we are tired, because we are not getting good quality sleep, we often respond by yawning all day. However, when children do not get good sleep, they respond paradoxically with hyperactivity, which often gets them lumped into a group of people under the umbrella term ADHD.

The Healthy Start model is a way of guiding a child through: development by breaking the negative habits that lead to unhealthy development, and by having them wear a nighttime device that encourages horizontal growth of the palate. The nice thing about this developmental guidance system is that it does not require brackets, and it does not require a fixed palatal expander. Taking advantage of chewing forces, the device is comfortably worn and conveys small but repeated forces to encourage proper guidance of the growth.

I hope this has been interesting and eye-opening. The more I have learned about childhood airway issues, the more I have realized that I likely suffered from some of these same issues. Catching an airway problem between the Ages of 3-6 years old is better than catching it at 12. It takes kids about 3-5 years to catch up in school, once their airway problems are resolved. Therefore, have your child evaluated by a Healthy Start dentist to determine if they have the signs and symptoms of airway problems.

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