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Second pediatric airway conference set for March

December 21, 2018

By David Burger

Photo of Dr. Maples
Dr. Maples
Dr. Susan Maples tried to attend the first ADA Children’s Airway Conference last summer but ran into a problem.

It was sold out.

This time, the dentist, author and health educator is sure to get in as she will be a featured speaker at the second ADA Children’s Airway Conference, scheduled for March 3-4 at ADA Headquarters in Chicago.

Dentists interested in helping the children in their practices with potential sleep-related breathing disorders are invited to attend the conference, Optimizing Pediatric Airway Health: The Critical Role of Dentists. It is designed to build upon the introduction offered at the first conference. First-time attendees are welcomed.

“World-class experts will provide clinically useful information, backed by the latest evidence, for dentists to use right away,” said Dr. Steve Carstensen, who is collaborating with the ADA to produce this program. “There will be three areas of focus this time – at our first conference last August, there were 12 speakers to give an overview. Dentists and team members attending [this year] will be able to identify children at risk and know what to say to families to make sure their child can make every breath their best breath, as early in life as possible.”

This year’s conference will focus on three areas:

  • Screening Your Patient Population.
  • Tissue-Tie and Why the Dental Team Should Be Aware of This Problem.
  • Helping Children Become Nose-Breathers, 24/7.

Sleep-related breathing disorders are characterized as disruptions in normal breathing patterns. The disorders are potentially serious medical conditions caused by anatomical airway collapse and altered respiratory control mechanisms. Common disorders include snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome and obstructive sleep apnea.

The conference, which offers 10.5 hours of continuing education credit, will guide the general, pediatric and orthodontic practitioner in the significance of sleep-related breathing disorders in children and how the ADA policy statement on "The Role of Dentistry in the Treatment of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders” directs them to address the issue, according to the course description.

The course description states: “By expanding their provider scope beyond the current concentration on dental disease, dentists will see their role in children's overall health. With the growing awareness of airway issues in the profession and the public, getting a handle on this service is critical toward modernizing the dental practice in the 21st century.  Currently, practitioners that are already involved in this arena are experiencing a whole new level of practice productivity and satisfaction.”

The course is intended to teach participants to:

  • Identify children at risk in their practice and community and how to talk to families about their children's breathing.
  • Understand how tethered oral tissues play a vital role in shaping the airway for life.
  • Help children develop good nasal breathing habits for daytime and nighttime and surgical options from an airway perspective.

Other speakers include Dr. Barry Raphael, head of the New Jersey-based Raphael Center of Integrative Orthodontics; Dr. Richard Baxter, founder and owner of the Alabama Tongue-Tie Center; and Ron Mitchell, M.D., professor and vice chairman of the Department of Otolaryngology Head and Neck Surgery at the UT Southwestern and Children's Medical Center Dallas.

Dr. Maples, who suffered from a respiratory disease and airway disorder early in life, said her goal is to help dental professionals address the “epidemic of obstructive sleep apnea among adults” by taking early action. “It’s up to us to take the bull by the horns and advocate for the patient,” she said.

There will be an emphasis, Dr. Maples said, on practical approaches that dentists can use in their practices. She said not only pediatric dentists should attend, but all general dentists, as well, to “put science into action.”

“We can’t do it alone,” Dr. Maples said. “It takes a team.”

Register for the conference at

In 2017, the ADA House of Delegates approved a policy statement addressing dentistry's role in sleep-related breathing disorders, developed as a result of a 2015 resolution. The adopted policy emphasizes that "dentists are the only health care provider with the knowledge and expertise to provide oral appliance therapy."

The adopted policy statement outlines the role of dentists in treatment of the disorder.

Key components include assessing a patient's risk for the disorder as part of a comprehensive medical and dental history and referring affected patients to appropriate physicians. In children, the dentist's recognition of suboptimal early craniofacial growth and development or other risk factors may lead to medical referral or orthodontic/orthopedic intervention to treat and/or prevent the disorders. The policy also covers evaluating the appropriateness of oral appliance therapy as prescribed by a physician; recognizing and managing appliance side effects; continually updating dental sleep medicine knowledge and training; and communicating patients' treatment progress with the referring physician and other health care providers.

The entire policy can be found online at by searching for the name of the document, "The Role of Dentistry in the Treatment of Sleep-Related Breathing Disorders.”

For more information, visit