McIntosh Dental practices ‘Full Face Orthodontics’, an orthodontics philosophy which favours development of the upper jaw (maxillary expansion) to accommodate the teeth and achieve a fuller, more pleasing facial profile. This differs from the out-dated traditional orthodontic approach which favours teeth extraction in overcrowded mouths to make the remaining teeth fit a narrower upper jaw. Allowing the jaw to grow into a better shape through full face orthodontics not only makes a significant aesthetic improvement on the smile and facial profile, it can also improve breathing and posture. What is not as widely known is that international studies have also linked full face orthodontics with the ability to improve and even stop bedwetting.
Bedwetting is regarded as being multicausal, with contributing factors that can be physical as well as psychological. A bedwetting problem can be stressful and miserable for both the parents and the child. Parents and caregivers will be aware that there are a myriad of theories, devices and even medication available on the market which try to stop bedwetting, but unfortunately these often treat the symptoms rather than the cause. And while the majority of children outgrow it, in some cases it can continue to be a problem into teen and even adult years.
The potential link between breathing and bedwetting has been identified through follow-up studies of children who had their tonsils and adenoids removed, with typical results of more than 60% of children stopping bedwetting following the surgery. Further independent studies have identified a more specific link between bedwetting and a narrow palate which causes sleep apnoea and breathing problems. Sydney orthodontist Dr Derek Mahony has reported that 8 out of 10 children referred to him with bedwetting problems have a narrow palate.
Expansion of the palate in full face orthodontics by enlarging the upper dental arch and roof of the mouth is known as rapid maxillary expansion, or REM. One study in the Middle East reported a 74% improvement in bedwetting in its subjects, concluding that expansion of the palate (REM) could cause relief for some children. And a Scandinavian study reported positive effects of REM in nearly 50% of the children within one month of treatment.
It’s believed that difficulty breathing makes the body and brain work harder for oxygen, and in turn lessens the control the brain has over other bodily functions like bladder control. Mouth breathing is indicative of a compromised nasal airway. REM improves the nasal airflow and therefore can have a positive impact on sleep apnoea and bedwetting.
At McIntosh Dental we use orthodontic devices to expand a narrow upper jaw in the first orthodontic treatment step for some patients. These devices are particularly effective in treating the symptoms caused by mouth breathing, and we have achieved great rates of success in correcting the problem in children from as young as 7 years old. In Sweden these expanding orthodontic devices were trialled in children who had not responded to any other bedwetting treatments, with a success rate of 70%. A similar trial in Great Britain had 100% of patients stop bedwetting.
If you have any concerns at all regarding your child’s jaw, mouth or teeth development, or suspect they have breathing issues, we recommend an orthodontic consultation where we can identify any issues and discuss treatment options. We often involve other specialists like ENT to help find the best solution.