Nathanson Dental - December 2017

Dec 2017 /Jan 2018

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Giving Kids

a Healthy Start

40 million children are affected by a breathing-related sleep disorder, causing a whole host of issues in a child’s daily life. Everything from bedwetting to night terrors to ADHD has been linked to sleep disordered breathing in children, as it interrupts regular sleep cycles and prevents them from getting the deep rest they need to function normally. Most of these sleep problems are caused by crowded teeth, narrow dental arches, and other developmental problems with the patient’s mouth. That’s where Healthy Start comes in. During treatment, kids wear a set of soft, pliable mouthpieces, usually while they’re sleeping, that gradually guide the growth of the jaws into the proper position, ensuring an unobstructed airway. As an added bonus, the devices straighten the child’s teeth, without cumbersome braces or Invisalign treatment, completely pain-free. Last month, I talked about the feeling of moral obligation I had after learning of the pervasive, dangerous effects of sleep apnea in adults across the country. Now that I know Healthy Start exists, I feel the same responsibility for these kids. There’s simply no reason they should be forced to live with this condition, never knowing what’s wrong and being at risk for potentially life-threatening issues later in life. I’m just grateful to do my part for the Healthy Start movement, contributing to our mission of allowing kids to be the best versions of themselves they can possibly be. - Dr. Joel Nathanson

In the past few years, I’ve become increasingly dedicated to the study and treatment of sleep apnea and its long list of associated health risks . As I implemented robust screening and treatment processes for the disorder in my own practice, I knew I was greatly helping my patients by addressing this widespread, hidden health crisis. Still, I began to wonder: Is there some way that we might be able to intervene sooner to prevent sleep apnea from ever becoming a problem in our patients’ lives in the first place? In my search for answers, I discovered the work of an orthodontic specialist named Dr. Earl Bergersen, who’d not only asked that same question, but has been doing something about it for decades. As an associate professor of orthodontics at Northwestern University, Dr. Bergersen invented an array of orthodontic devices designed to address the root cause of sleep disordered breathing in patients at a young age. After years of careful study, he’d combined these treatments into a program called Healthy Start, a natural, comprehensive, noninvasive, and long- lasting treatment solution to sleep apnea. It is designed to facilitate proper growth and development of the jaws and teeth in kids. After learning of its existence, I studied under Dr. Bergersen to learn how it worked and how it could be incorporated into my practice. After becoming certified as a Healthy Start practitioner in Maryland, I incorporated it into our treatment options and have been helping children to stop their sleep disordered breathing ever since.

“Last month, I talked about the feeling of moral obligation I had after learning of the pervasive, dangerous effects of sleep apnea in adults across the country. Now that I know Healthy Start exists, I feel the same responsibility for these kids.”

Much like adult sleep apnea, sleep disordered breathing in kids is drastically underdiagnosed. Studies show that over

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