Airway Orthodontics

Airway Orthodontics

for Sleep Disordered Breathing and Airway Health

Early orthodontic treatment systems allow patients to begin on their path to being the best version of themselves.  These systems are recommended for children between the ages of 3 and 15. The systems we provide are used in combination with traditional orthodontics or alone. These innovative orthodontic systems work to promote natural jaw and airway development and move crowded and crooked teeth into proper alignment while addressing sleep-disordered breathing, snoring, teeth grinding, and mouth breathing.  Our philosophy in early orthodontics is based on non-extraction orthodontics. Our orthodontic treatments are designed using a functional method and do not involve tooth extractions. We focus on the entire oral facial system, concentrating on facial growth and development-guided therapy.

Orthodontic treatment does so much more than create beautiful, straight, smiles. As sleep apnea and airway health specialists, our team at Dental Partners of Vero Beach strives to make your children’s teeth not only straighter, we partner with our patients to create healthy, strong smiles and alleviate sleep issues and airway dysfunction. We believe that if children (and adults) breathe better, they will sleep better, and they will do better.

Would Your Child Benefit from Airway Orthodontics?

The following symptoms could indicate that your child may be a candidate for Airway Orthodontics.
Do they have any symptoms?

  • Mouth breathing
  • Constant lethargy
  • Snoring
  • Rapid shallow breathing
  • Chronic ear or sinus infections
  • Bedwetting
  • Poor school performance
  • Hyperactivity
  • Nighttime restlessness
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Impatience or Moodiness

Improving Lives Through Airway Orthodontics

Airway Orthodontics sets the foundation for the best possible shape for growth and development of a child’s mouth, jaw, and airway. This orthodontic treatment plan includes 2 Phases.

Phase 1

hase 1 is the first step in the orthodontic process towards a child’s healthiest smile. This process is recommended when a child still has some of their baby teeth and before all their permanent teeth have erupted. Phase 1 orthodontics uses expanders, aligners and braces specifically designed for oral, jaw and airway correction, and guidance, leading to proper growth and development.

Orthodontics ultimately will achieve a great esthetic outcome, however the goal in Phase 1 orthodontics is to develop a solid foundation so we can go forward into Phase 2.

Phase 2

Phase 2 Orthodontics are treatment systems that are provided after the jaws have been developed, early treatment has been completed, and all or most of a child’s permanent teeth have come in. Phase 2 addresses esthetics, gaps between teeth, overbites, underbites, overall misalignment, function, and stability. At this time metal braces or Invisalign would be recommended to complete and maintain the development of a child’s overall orthodontic health and wellness.

Benefits of Early Orthodontics

Quality sleep.

Airway orthodontics can help children get better quality sleep to feel rested and have more energy.

Improved health.

The improvements in breathing due to airway orthodontics can improve a child’s overall health and wellness.

Prevent or reduce future orthodontic treatment.

When airway orthodontics is applied at the right time, it can reduce or even prevent the need for future traditional orthodontic treatment.

Promote proper development of the jaw and face. 

Guiding the growth of the jaw starting in early childhood can treat existing problems with breathing and help the facial structure develop properly.

Does My Child Have Sleep Disordered Breathing and Airway Health Issues?

At Dental Partner of Vero Beach, we take sleep health and airway issues very seriously. It takes a comprehensive approach to diagnose and correct these concerns. We are here to help.
Sleep disorder statistics in children vary. The American Academy of Family Physicians published an article titled Common Sleep Disorders in Children. It was stated that up to 50% of children will experience a sleep problem in their young life. The numbers of sleep and airway issues in children are staggering.

We urge parents to inquire about sleep related symptoms and pursue a diagnosis and treatment plan. Our treatments are effective and the outcomes are outstanding.

How We Diagnose Sleep Disordered Breathing and Airway Dysfunction in Children

Dental Partners of Vero Beach offers an extensive array of diagnostic tests, assessments, and systems to evaluate and diagnose sleep and airway issues.

Prior to a child’s first visit, or first orthodontic consultation, all parents are asked to complete a Sleep Risk Assessment Questionnaire for their children so our team can understand your child’s sleep patterns and personal history.

As part of our comprehensive office visit, we offer a complimentary in-office CBCT 3D Scan to all patients. This scan includes a 3D image of the head, neck, jaw, sinuses, nasal passage, airway, and temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Our team of professionals analyses all data from the scan, takes measurements, and determines the status of the patient’s overall oral health and how it may be related to sleep and airway health issues. If the child is overwhelmed and hesitant to participate in the scan, we will try to evaluate utilizing other techniques. Learn More about our CBCT 3D Imaging.

The most effective way to assess a child for early orthodontic treatment is through a comprehensive hands-on examination. There are many physical characteristics internally as well as externally of facial and jaw measurements that we use to diagnose and treatment plan our patients.

Based upon the age of the child, and the severity of sleep and airway issues, one of our specialists may recommend a nasal and airway analysis scan. This 10-15 second screening is performed in our office and analyzes the patients air flow. Results are available immediately after the scan. This screening determines the level of healthy and or dysfunction of the child’s air flow and breathing.

It is not uncommon for children to have health concerns that may contribute to their sleep and airway health. We collaborate with our patient’s healthcare providers and or refer to healthcare associates that can assist with a diagnosis and or treatment plan. Pediatricians, ENT’s, and or Allergists may contribute to the overall success of sleep and airway issues, health management and resolutions.

Airway Orthodontic Success
for Sleep Disordered Breathing and Airway Health

Front View
Front View
Side View
Side View

Phase 1

Quality sleep.

Palatal or maxillary expanders are devices that widen the upper jaw to make room for crowded teeth by stimulating the mouth and jaw to grow properly. Expanders, used as part of a treatment plan, not only assist with expanding the upper jaw and straightening teeth but will also improve chewing function, mouth breathing, nasal stuffiness and prevent dental problems later in life.

HealthyStart™ System

HealthyStart™ is an innovative orthodontic system that straightens teeth and improves airway function for better sleep and breathing. It is a non-invasive and natural way of straightening teeth while improving sleep-disordered breathing. Because treatment starts at a younger age than with traditional braces, it’s highly effective in influencing jaw development.

Learn More about HealthyStart™


Myobrace® removable appliance employ myofunctional techniques to address poor muscular habits that can be the underlying causes of crooked teeth, and use light intermittent forces to align the teeth and develop the jaws.

Learn More about Myobrace®

Phase 2


Virtually invisible, Invisalign clear braces are an excellent alternative to metal braces. Invisalign combines the efficacy of traditional metal braces and the discretion of invisible aligners to deliver an exceptional treatment experience with results that go far beyond straight teeth.

Learn More about Invisalign

Carriere® Bracket System

Carriere Brackets are traditional braces used in an expansive airway approach to straight teeth. Braces are never used alone but in combination with fixed expanders. With the Carriere Bracket System, teeth are moved more naturally with a low-force/low-friction passive orthodontic system This system is typically used when compliance with a removable orthodontic system, such as Invisalign, is not possible or a child prefers the aesthetics of the traditional metal braces.

Integrative Treatments

In conjunction with the orthodontic appliances prescribed we may suggest integrative treatments that enhance the orthodontic systems adding to the best outcomes and successful results.

Myofunctional Therapy

Oral Functional Myofunctional Therapy (OMT) addresses disorders that interfere with the function of the muscles of the face and mouth in patients of all ages. It has been described as physical therapy for your mouth. They are trained to recognize, assess, and treat orofacial myofunctional disorders. Therapists work with patients to help with proper tongue placement, tongue positioning, swallowing, chewing, and breathing. Myofunctional therapists work closely with healthcare providers to ensure optimal results.


How Can A Frenectomy Help Prevent Sleep Apnea and Breathing?
When the frenum, which is the band of the tissue that connects the bottom of the tongue to the floor of the mouth is too short, thick, or tight, the tongue movement and function are restricted. This is called a tongue tie.   A lip tie is where the lip is too short, or tightly attached to the upper and or lower gum tissue restricting movement and function.   These conditions affect both children and adults and may cause growth, and development, and recent studies have identified tongue ties as a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  To release lip or tongue ties a minor surgical procedure can be performed using a laser or scissor with or with sutures for wound closure. Learn More Frenectomy

Frequently Asked Questions About Airway Orthodontics

The goal of traditional orthodontics is to create straight teeth. However, modern orthodontic technology also allows dentists to change the shape of the jaw in coordination with moving teeth, and these techniques allow for better breathing. Airway Orthodontics is focused on treating the reason behind crooked teeth instead of just the crooked teeth themselves. Teeth are misaligned due to oral muscle dysfunction and improper breathing, which leads to the underdevelopment of the jaw bones. By focusing on treating the muscle dysfunction and establishing proper nasal breathing, we can guide the jaws into proper position and not only straighten teeth but optimize airway development and growth in children.

The strength and position of your tongue, specifically against the upper palate of the mouth, directly influences the size and shape of your jaw and thus impacts airway health. Unfortunately, this lack of development begins potentially at birth. As a society, mothers are breastfeeding less, which reduces jaw development through nipple sucking. Toddlers are fed a diet focused on softer food, and even as adults, we consume more processed foods, both of which also reduce the need for more rigorous chewing. As a result, our jaw composition and tongue strength are generally underdeveloped, and this can even be tracked epigenetically, as it has even been documented in utero. Tongue ties are common in newborns, which can inhibit the tongue from contributing to proper jaw development. Through collaboration with a Myofunctional Therapist, we can train the tongue and facial muscles to regain the proper strength needed to work with other dental treatments in the fight against Sleep Disordered Breathing. Myofunctional therapy is also an important component when dentists perform a tongue tie release (frenectomy), to ensure that the tongue does not relapse back into a sub-optimal state. Learn More Myofunctional Therapy Learn More Frenectomy

When a child’s breathing is constantly interrupted while they sleep, they are unable to get quality, restful sleep. This can lead to chronic fatigue and over exhaustion, which often manifests as hyperactivity, lack of focus, and other behaviors associated with ADHD. When the breathing issues are corrected, the symptoms of ADHD often disappear.

Airway orthodontics treatment includes using myofunctional appliances, braces, Invisalign, palatal expanders, and myofunctional therapy to shift the teeth and jaws into proper alignment while expanding the arches to make room for the tongue in the mouth and to prevent it from collapsing into the back of the throat. Our goal is to prevent surgery by treating kids early. Airway trained dentists feel that it is no longer acceptable to pull teeth to accommodate an underdeveloped jaw. Extracting teeth will make a small mouth even smaller, therefore limiting the space for the tongue. Orthognathic surgery may be required to bring the jaws forward if the child is not treated early enough. Airway orthodontics can prevent the need for surgery when applied at the right time.

Children between the ages of 5 and 12 can benefit most from airway orthodontics. When the necessary interventions are made at a young age when the jaw and face are still growing, the problem can be corrected with better future results.

Many of the treatments involved in orthodontics are covered by insurance, at least to some extent. Your coverage will depend on your provider and plan. We can assess the cost before and after insurance, or you can contact your provider for specific information about your plan and coverage.

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your child, contact us to schedule a consultation.