Airway & Breathing Therapies

Locations in Edina & Maple Grove to Better Serve You

Airway & Breathing Solutions

Having a crooked tooth is one thing, having a restricted airway is totally something else. Think about our body. After every breath the next most important thing our body does is draw the next breath, so on and so on. The airway is catching more and more attention with orthopedic dentists today. There is documentation that some of the issues with a smaller airway starts with the very early growing stages and therefore can actually be diagnosed and even corrected to improve the ability to breath properly as the child grows. We’ll explain the airway first and how we process oxygen. Then we’ll look at the current state of affairs and how OSA, obstructive sleep apnea, is dealt with in a reactive manor. Then we’ll look at what Dr. Pan, as an orthodontist, can do to correct the airway of your child and prevent this breathing disorder as he/she grows.

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How We Process Oxygen

The first stage is the external breathing, bringing air into our body. The second stage is how the body exchanges and distributes what’s in the lungs and the third stage is at the cellular level. Efficient external breathing should be done through your nose at an idea volume rate. The nose conditions the air for the lungs by moistening, filtering, warming and sterilizing the air. Carbon dioxide plays an important role that we don’t realize as well as it interfaces with both the lungs and tissues.

There you have a nice balanced model. Change the size of the airway and the balance is thrown off. Start breathing through the mouth to compensate and the CO2 levels drop and affect how we process the oxygen. A very vicious cycle. As of now the medical industry is reacting to sleep apnea with CPAP machines, which by forcing air into the airway keep it from collapsing, or with an appliance to keep the tongue out of the back of the throat. To qualify for insurance now you need to go through the choking episodes of losing your airway 10 to 15 times an hour. Not really a practice of good medicine. We’ve been treating the symptoms, not the source of the problem.

If your airway collapses the body does some crazy things. Cortisol is secreted and the heart accelerates resulting in scaring you to breathe. You end up not being able to drop into a deep sleep and this dramatically effects the bodily functions the next day as you have not had proper rest.

How the airway changes

The airway and breathing can change due to one or several of the following factors. These are the issues now that Dr. Pan identifies in a child and then suggests the proper treatment to correct them.

The first orthodontic diagnosis that results in a restricted airway is the positioning of the maxilla or the mandible. The maxilla is the upper jawbone and how it forms the nasal passage and even the eye sockets. The mandible is your lower jaw bone. You can immediately see the relationship between these two parts of the face and how they can affect the airway and your breathing.

The next step in the diagnosis is how the patient compensates to breath. Do they change their posture or move their tongue differently?

Finally, Dr. Pan can evaluate the consequences from those very compensations. At this time the Cone Beam CT scanner might be advantageous to evaluate the size of the jaws and how they are positioned.

Orthodontic Changes

It’s simply about more than the teeth. It’s also about proper facial growth. Much like building a house it has a foundation, exterior walls, a roof and rooms. The interaction with the teeth, gums, jaws, sinus cavity all are now being identified as contributing factors equally in facial development.

Dr. Pan might review the 3D scan with you and make some suggestions on how the jaws can be altered orthodontically with your child at their age to ensure their airway development. Frankly, this is drawing more attention and is identified as a much greater problem then straightening teeth. He may also consider the child’s genetics to project facial development.

As Dr. Pan does his evaluation he will identify the efficiency with the nasal breathing and the rate of airflow. Is breathing difficult and is there any audible wheezing sounds. Does the youngster snore? Dr. Pan will check the seal of the lips without any muscle strain. He will check the positioning of the tongue when it is a rest. How does the child swallow and how does the tongue interact with that process? He will ask questions and make suggestions about your child at home. How is the child sleeping regarding the quality and quantity of sleep? Is the nose kept clean to function properly? He will attempt to identify the posture of your child’s bones, their muscles and the fascia related to the face. Finally, how does the child eat. Is there good nutrition being provided that doesn’t challenge the body.

The Benefits to Your Child

If Dr. Pan is able to do some ever-so-slight tweaks to the upper and lower jaw alignment for your youngster than we don’t have the cart in front of the horse. After this alignment is addressed there may be braces to follow to complete the entire make over, but as your child grows and becomes a young adult they will forever thank you. We often talk about trying to put a value on your smile and how it is the foundation for your self-esteem and self-confidence. Well, how about putting a value on a quality night’s sleep. To eliminate the fragmented sleep patterns and the strain it puts on the heart and the other systems as well as daylong fatigue and constant sleepiness.

Think about asking Dr. Pan to evaluate your child and their airway. Have him run a few diagnostic tests to see if your child’s face will grow such that their airway will perform properly. It’s not as pretty as straightening teeth but far more important.

Meet Dr. Pan

Pan Orthodontics Philosophy

To treat our patients as our families and to treat others as how we want to be treated. From your first phone call to the moment your new smile is born, everything in our office is set up to ensure an excellent experience with us. We will always listen to you and improve with your suggestions.

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Our Commitment to You

We will continue to keep up with the ever growing digital technologies to improve your orthodontic experience. We also commit to always help you find the most convenient time for your visit with us.