Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is a serious problem for children. A recent paper, Sleep disordered breathing in children seeking orthodontic care, provides us with information on the potential prevalence of SDB in a population of orthodontic patients, pegging it at around 7% of patients.
The role of SDB in the aetiology of malocclusion (misalignment or incorrect relation between the teeth of the two dental arches when they approach each other as the jaws close) is far from clear. However, there is little doubt that SDB can cause severe problems for children. For example, SDB leads to hyperactivity and this may be misdiagnosed as attention deficit disorder. As orthodontists, we at Freeman, Caro & Lands can help identify those potential patients who have SDB. We can then refer them for appropriate testing. Certain early preventive orthodontic treatments have been shown help improve the airway and breathing.