Facial development in infants and children
Normally, in an infant who is still breastfeeding, the tongue is still out in a more forward position. As the face develops, the child starts having what is called laryngeal descent, the larynx starts descending so that they can start speaking. Then they have a difference in their swallowing pattern, and in the way that they breathe. The tongue now falls back into the mouth, and against the palate. This allows for that multi-tasking and sharing of the aerodigestive tube, allowing them to eat, breathe, and speak, without choking. These changes take place in the first six months of life, which is a crucial period of development.
The significance of the pharyngeal airway
The pharyngeal airway is the air passage extending from the nares (nostrils) to the glottis (breathing area in the throat). This space is determined by the many parts comprising its enclosing walls. Therefore, the dimensions and configuration of the airway is a product of the development and growth patterns of many hard and soft tissues along its path. Although the surrounding parts define the airway, the growth and maintenance these parts, in turn, are determined by the airway itself. Any change in the functional and anatomic positions of any part will have an effect on the entire system.
If any regional childhood variation develops along the course of the airway, it can significantly alter the airway configuration or size. When this occurs, facial growth will follow a different pathway and this will lead to a variation in overall facial assembly, which may exceed the balance of a normal pattern. The result is that this highly complex structure with so many tissues and organs are highly dependent and integrated with each other so we need to understand, when we are dealing with one part, the ripple effect it could have on the entire structure.
As scientific understanding of sleep disordered breathing continues to evolve, newer, more effective, and more patient-friendly solutions become available. Dr. Cruz is at the forefront of progressive dentistry, and he brings innovative treatment options such as myofunctional therapy to the residents of Dana Point, Laguna Niguel, and other south Orange County communities. Call (949) 661-1006 and schedule a consultation to learn more.