What do dental check-ups have to do with brain health?

Have you ever considered why taking your young child for a dental check-up is so important? An incredible amount of information is gathered during a child’s dental visit!

The modern dental clinician or orofacial myologist may well have had additional training to recognise potential problems in young children, looking beyond the ‘teeth and gums’ and at the oral environment from a much broader perspective. Have you ever been asked questions relating to your child’s sleep patterns, allergies, breathing, behaviour, or habits during your child’s dental check-up or even wondered why they were checking the size of the tonsils? You’re in the right hands!

These observations help the clinician build a health profile that surprises many parents. Something a parent takes for granted may be a red flag
for the care provider. For example, a child who snores or grinds their teeth regularly is not getting a great night’s sleep. They may be in bed for 10-12 hours, but the quality of their sleep is very much compromised.

Sleep disturbance and mouth-breathing habits can be associated with daytime behaviours that significantly affect how the child functions at school or at play. Daytime tiredness, poor concentration, emotional fragility, anger, excessive energy, anxiety or frequent headaches are a few symptoms often noted in children experiencing what is known as ‘Sleep Disordered Breathing’. By the way, your little one does not have to have their mouth wide open to be ‘mouth breathing’!

Young rapidly growing brains requiresound restful sleep, the best quality oxygen (nasal breathing) good oral habits and great nutrition. These aid brain growth plus teeth and jaw development too! Interruptions to a good nasal breathing habit, the ability to eat well or sleep soundly need appropriate evaluation. Whether the concern is physical in nature, the result of poor or incorrect habits (low tongue posture, thumb/finger sucking or incorrect swallowing) a thorough evaluation and referral for help for your child is recommended.

They only get one chance to grow!