By Dr Mike Cary
Our airway health is related to how our face grows. Facial growth and symmetry is influenced by genetics and tongue position. In fact, how the tongue sits in the mouth has more impact than genetics when it comes to facial growth and symmetry.
Favorable growth is associated with horizontal facial growth while unfavorable is associated with vertical growth. Excess vertical growth results in elongation of the face, dental crowding, narrow palate, recessed chins, increase in airway restrictions and other conditions. This occurs when the tongue is not resting against the roof of the mouth when the mouth is at rest (when we are not eating, drinking or speaking). Good rest oral posture is when the tongue rests against the roof of the mouth, lips together, teeth lightly together and breathing through the nose. Poor rest oral posture is when any of these are missing allowing the upper jaw to grow more vertically. We find favorable facial growth is associated with good rest oral posture and horizontal growth.
Airway restrictions or obstructive sleep apnea in children have many of the same signs as poor rest oral posture such as narrow jaws, crowded teeth and mouth breathing. Many times enlarged tonsils seem to be the cause of airway restrictions and unfavorable growth. The first line of defense is to remove enlarged tonsils and adenoids to help children breath better. However, this treatment alone does not improve rest oral posture, allowing unfavorable facial growth to continue. Studies have shown over time, tonsil and adenoid removal alone helps a small percent of children with breathing disorders.
Biobloc Orthotropics® helps the face grow to its genetic potential by eliminating growth restrictions caused by poor rest oral posture. Vertical growth is minimized and both jaws are developed in a forward and horizontal direction. When the face grows more horizontal, the nasopharynx and oropharynx size increases as the base of the tongue comes forward with the face. As the tongue comes forward it moves out of the airway space allowing more airflow from the nose to the lungs. A 2007 study demonstrated Biobloc Orthotropics® can improve airway volume by 30%. Currently Biobloc Orthotropics® is the only known method to increase the size of the airway with growth guidance.
Biobloc Orthotropics® utilizes a series of retainers to sequentially develop forward growth of the upper and lower jaw. When compared to conventional orthodontic approach, orthotropics minimizes restrictive forces on the upper jaw when used properly allowing both jaws to grow forward. You can see in figure 1 how the face and lips are fuller and the lower jaw is no longer recessed.
The oral appliances are comfortable to wear and are not visible making it desirable for the patient. As the jaws develop forward, the tongue is lifted out of the airway to improve airflow (figure 2).
Biobloc Orthotropics® works best in children between age 5 and 8, when upper jaw growth is the greatest. Treatment time can vary depending on the child, age and severity of the condition. Treatment goal is to improve rest oral posture, increase favorable horizontal growth and improve airway volume. Biobloc Orthotropics® can help improve facial and airway growth using conservative oral appliances. To learn more, visit biobloc.org or Dr. Mike Cary to see if your child could benefit from orthotropics.
Dr Mike Cary is a general dentist in Sherwood, Oregon working with Oregon Sleep Associates to help children develop better airways utilizing Biobloc Orthotropics®. Contact him at www.drmikecary.com or 503-925-9992.