Towards Restoration of Continuous Nasal Breathing as the Ultimate Treatment Goal in Pediatric Obstructive Sleep Apnea
The interaction between oral-facial structural growth and muscle activity starts early in development and continues through childhood. Chronic oral breathing is an important clinical marker of orofacial muscle dysfunction, which may be associated with palatal growth restriction, nasal obstruction, and/ or a primary disorder of muscular or connective tissue dysfunction. It is easily documented objectively during sleep.
Treatment of pediatric obstructive-sleep-apnea (OSA) and sleep-disordered-breathing (SBD) means restoration of continuous nasal breathing during wakefulness and sleep; if nasal breathing is not restored, despite short-term improvements after adenotonsillectomy (T&A), continued use of the oral breathing route may be associated with abnormal impacts on airway growth and possibly blunted neuromuscular responsiveness of airway tissues.
Elimination of oral breathing, i.e., restoration of nasal breathing during wake and sleep, may be the only valid end point when treating OSA. Preventive measures in at-risk groups, such as premature infants, and usage of myofunctional therapy as part of the treatment of OSA are proposed to be important approaches to treat appropriately SDB and its multiple co-morbidities.