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Airway Dentistry is a specialized field of dentistry that focuses on assessing and managing the airway-related issues in children. It involves the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of various conditions that affect the upper respiratory tract and oral cavity, with a particular emphasis on how they may impact a child’s breathing and overall health.

The airway plays a crucial role in breathing, and any abnormalities or obstructions in the airway can lead to significant health problems, especially in children. Pediatric airway dentistry aims to identify and address these issues early on to ensure proper growth, development, and overall well-being of the child.

Some common conditions that pediatric airway dentistry addresses include:

  1. Sleep-Disordered Breathing: This encompasses a range of conditions, such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), mouth breathing, and other sleep-related breathing disorders. These issues can often be related to structural problems in the oral cavity, such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or dental malocclusions, which can obstruct the airway during sleep.
  2. Facial and Jaw Growth Abnormalities: Pediatric dentists specializing in airway dentistry assess the growth and development of the face, jaws, and teeth. They examine for any issues that may impact the airway, such as skeletal discrepancies, narrow dental arches, or malocclusions. Addressing these problems early can help optimize the child’s airway space and prevent potential breathing difficulties.
  3. Tongue-Tie (Ankyloglossia): Tongue-tie is a condition in which the tongue’s movement is restricted due to an abnormally short or tight lingual frenulum. It can affect breastfeeding, speech development, and potentially compromise the airway. Pediatric airway dentists may evaluate and perform frenectomy procedures to release the tongue-tie and improve overall oral function.
  4. Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Disorders: TMJ disorders can occur in children and cause pain, discomfort, and difficulty in jaw movement. These issues can influence the position and function of the lower jaw, potentially impacting the airway. Pediatric airway dentists may diagnose and provide appropriate management strategies for TMJ disorders.

Pediatric airway dentistry involves a multidisciplinary approach, often collaborating with other healthcare professionals such as pediatricians, otolaryngologists (ear, nose, and throat specialists), orthodontists, and speech therapists. Treatment options may include orthodontic interventions, oral appliances, myofunctional therapy, or referral for surgical interventions, depending on the specific needs of the child.

By addressing airway-related concerns at an early stage, pediatric airway dentistry aims to optimize the child’s breathing, promote healthy growth and development, enhance overall health outcomes, and potentially prevent long-term complications.

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Common Questions About Sedation Options

Does sedation dentistry work for most children?

Yes, our dental sedation will work for most kids. We offer two options because we understand that different children will respond better to different sedation methods. We’ll go over the details of both options and help you decide which one will work better for your child’s situation and specific needs.

Are your sedation options safe?

Yes, we only use safe, time-tested sedation options at Evergreen Pediatric & Airway Dentistry. Laughing gas, or inhaled sedation, is mild and gentle enough that it is completely safe to use for kids. For more intense dental anxiety or if your child is simply unable to sit comfortably through their exam or procedure, we also offer general anesthesia administered by a medical anesthesiologist.

How long does dental sedation last?

The length of the sedative effect varies, depending on the type of sedation used. For laughing gas, your child will inhale the gas through a mask worn over their nose. It wears off quickly when the mask is removed and they won’t feel groggy afterward. In contrast, they may feel the effects of general anesthesia for several hours after their procedure.

Is dental sedation covered by insurance?

Dental sedation for certain procedures is at least partially covered by many insurance plans. You will need to talk to your dental insurance provider to find out more about your child’s specific coverage. We will be happy to assist you further in figuring out the most affordable way to maximize your child’s comfort with dental sedation.