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A Healthy Start begins with sleep!

HealthyStart dental appliance and sleep disorders in children - Can face development really lead to life long breathing issues?

Do kids have sleeping disorders? Sleep disordered breathing in children is more common than most people realize. Sleep Disordered Breathing can manifest itself in a variety of easily overlooked symptoms or misdiagnosis. If parents suspect sleep is evading their kids, what do they do?

Spring Valley Dental Group’s own Dr. Jon Owen found himself asking that same question as he noted many of the behaviors and outward symptoms in his own children. His investigation into potential treatments lead him to become intimately involved in utilizing the Healthy Start appliance with his children. Now, he hopes to share his experience in hopes it may be useful to other parents experiencing the same issues.

What intrigued you to find out the appliance?

Simply put, my kids were the reason I looked into the benefits of the Healthy Start appliance. My children were/are exhibiting some signs and symptoms of a condition that if left unchecked would open the door for such things as sleep apnea in adulthood. Sleep apnea and sleep related disorders have been brought to the forefront with many types of physicians, dentists included. A colleague that had just finished taking the Healthy Start course referred me to the website. While moving through their information, including participating in their certified continuing education, I started to see some of the signs and symptoms at home with my children. Lo and behold, a noninvasive answer to many, if not all, signs and symptoms to a condition called Sleep Disordered Breathing. Simply wearing an appliance at night allows the child to breath properly and outward symptoms disappear such as: snoring, teeth clenching/grinding, mouth breathing, ADHD type symptoms, bedwetting, night terrors, chronic allergies, difficulty in school, sleep walking, the list goes on.

As a side note: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends elementary and middle school kids should sleep 9 to 12 hours per night on a regular basis as it leads to improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life and mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep each night is associated with an increase in injuries, hypertension, obesity and depression. Sleep is important for growing bodies!

Why is this appliance important? Pros and Cons

The Healthy Start appliance was developed right here by an Illinois orthodontist and have treated over 3 million cases treated worldwide and counting. The Healthy Start appliance utilizes a child’s natural growth and development to properly align the growing jaw bones and teeth allowing for proper airway space and straight teeth (Bonus!)! Since this treatment is a removable device, buy-in from both the parents and child is key. It won’t help if it is not used.

Why should parents want this appliance for their child?

The Healthy Start dental appliance is non-invasive and completely safe (no BPA’s, no latex, no silicone, phthalate free). The question may be asked, “how do we know that the child will not just grow out of it?” Simple data says that 95% of malocclusions, imperfect positioning of the teeth, will not self-correct and often get worse. More importantly, this device allows for the proper growth and development of their child by permitting the needed amount of oxygen into the lungs for a good night sleep. As we now know, proper sleep is of the utmost importance for overall mental and physical health and development.

What are the short- and long-term effects of the appliance?

These simple dental appliances not only open airways and straighten teeth but also modify behaviors. One appliance is aptly named the Habit Corrector as it is changing habits to proper breathing and jaw position in order to facilitate a lifelong correction. This is why it is important to start early with children because the younger they are the more adaptable they are to change. Proper nasal breathing and jaw position as children can mean no sleep apnea as an adult.

From a parent stand point, what would you want to pass on to other parents about this appliance?

Guiding your children to be the best version of themselves is every parents desire or goal. Something as simple as the Healthy Start appliance can truly help kids get that good night sleep and be ready for whatever the day throws at them.

Time wise, what’s involved in beginning treatment with this appliance? And are regular monthly visits required, similar to an orthodontist?

This is a long-term permanent treatment. What that means is that several visits to the dental office will happen over the first several months while compliance is being established. A child may wear these appliances for years until they stop growing. If intervention happened early enough in childhood, the skeletal and dental positioning will be correct which will optimize the airway, and this will be permanent!

Is the Healthy Start appliance covered by insurance?

Yes, this treatment is often covered by insurance. If you have a question about whether your insurance would cover this appliance, please reach out to our office.

How have your children responded to treatment with the Healthy Start appliance?

I am treating both of my children with these appliances as they have demonstrated many of these symptoms. Early on, I have noticed improvements in some of the simple things that will pay dividends in the near future such as sleeping all night, not snoring and breathing through their noses.


If you would like additional information on the Healthy Start dental appliance, please call Spring Valley Dental Group and set up an appointment for a free exam and consultation with Jon Owen, DMD.

For more information on the symptoms of sleep disordered breathing and/or how it may be used to correct tooth alignment and jaw shaping in children, visit the Healthy Start website:

Spring Valley Dental Group, dentists delivering excellence in dentistry in the St. Louis Metro-East area of Illinois, (O'Fallon, Shiloh, Caseyville, Fairview Heights, Collinsville, Lebanon, Swansea, Mascoutah, Troy, and Belleville, IL).

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