LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Sleepiness and bedwetting, even attention disorders and depression, are common issues children can face. But what if we told you these are issues that could possibly be fixed by a dentist?
13 Action News Anchor Tricia Kean spoke with one mom who says dental treatment is making all the difference for her daughter.
"It's just easier to have conversations with her where she's not, like, losing focus," said Vy Jen of her 8-year-old daughter, Penelope.
Vy says Penelope was experiencing some hyperactive behavior so she started getting treatment from self-proclaimed tooth wrangler, Dr. Dee Dee Meevasin.
"And you noticed her behavior changing as well?" asked Tricia.
"It did. As we've been through this process, she's calmer," said Vy. "As well as some of the symptoms that she was going through that we were concerned about."
The treatment is called Myofunctional Therapy.
"She basically has to wear an applicator daily. So definitely at night, throughout the night she keeps it on, and then throughout the day we try to have her do exercises like mouth exercises," said Vy.
"As you initially embarked upon this, did you ever think that was so meaningful how your teeth could tie into bigger issues?" asked Tricia.
"I really, honestly, my husband and I didn't think that it was and it's the education that we were provided from the office here that really got us to recognize that," said Vy.
How it works
Dr. Dee Dee first got involved with Myofunctional Therapy while looking for a treatment for her own children.
"I have sleep apnea and I was starting to see signs and symptoms in my kids, and that was unacceptable," said Dr. Dee Dee.
Dr. Dee Dee says her daughter would fall asleep breathing through her mouth, leading to snoring and ultimately not getting a solid night's sleep.
"So when a child who has sleep breathing disorder or someone with sleep apnea, their airway is about this size. But what we want, we want to grow to a healthy size like this. This is a healthy adult airway," said Dr. Dee Dee.
Developing a strong airway begins with the healthy development of the upper and lower jaw. Myofunctional Therapy consists of a series of appliances, kind of like a sports mouthguard, used for mouth and tongue exercises.
"They actually put the tongue in a certain position. You'll do some exercises with them and that's the Myofunctional Therapy. But it also guides the teeth in position... In turn, develop the airway and the teeth come in straight, too," said Dr. Dee Dee.
But the benefits don't end there.
"Children with conditions such as teeth grinding, mouth breathing, ADHD, you know, not being able to focus in school and a lot of this stuff is misdiagnosed. It could be symptoms of Sleep Breathing disorder, which leads to sleep apnea, if untreated," says Dr. Dee Dee.
It may not solve behavioral issues for every patient. But Dr. Dee Dee is seeing positive results with many of her patients.
"I have a mom of three kids. She tried it on one. She came back right away and wanted the other two. She goes, I'm sleeping through the night. I can't believe it. I haven't slept through the night in 12 years," says Dr. Dee Dee.
Best of all its covered by a lot of insurance companies and it's a natural approach requiring no surgery.
"So the bedwetting, the grinding of their teeth, the mouth breathing, those are big things, snoring. We can screen the child and see if that's a good option for them," said Dr. Dee Dee.
As for Vy, she says it's definitely been a great option for her family and she's recommending it to others.
"I just kind of share our story. So I have shared, like with some coworkers and some friends and I tell them, you know, do your research," says Vy.