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Pediatric airway symposium to clear the air on dental screening, treatment

June 06, 2018

By David Burger

One of the speakers at the Aug. 24-25 conference, Children's Airway Health – A Practical Conference, thinks August can't come soon enough.

"This should have been done years ago," said Ron Mitchell, M.D. "It's a long time coming."

The two-day conference at ADA Headquarters is billed as a first-of-its-kind dental symposium open to all that will focus on compromised airway health in pediatric patients — and the role dentists can play in risk assessment, referral for diagnosis and treatment.

Photo of Dr. Ombrello
Dr. Ombrello
Photo of Dr. Mitchell
Dr. Mitchell
"This is ground-breaking," said speaker Dr. Jill Ombrello, a Dallas general dentist who has travelled around the world to share her research and educate other doctors on pediatric sleep-disordered breathing and nonsurgical, nonpharmaceutical therapy to treat the chronic condition. "There's never been anything like this in dentistry."

Dr. Ombrello, whose presentation is titled Functional Therapy for Kids with Airway Problems, said many of her young patients come to her with symptoms associated with airway disturbances, including chronic allergies, inflammatory diseases, prolonged bedwetting, night terrors and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

When these symptoms are not addressed at an early age, the children tend to grow up to become adults with severe sleep apnea, said Dr. Mitchell, professor of otolaryngology and pediatrics and chief of pediatric otolaryngology at the University of Texas Southwestern and Children's Medical Center in Dallas, whose clinical and research interests are on the management of obstructive sleep apnea in children. "We need to tackle this early," he said. "We know that children who don't sleep well have serious consequences."

The continuing education event — with 13 credit hours — is designed to help dentists recognize compromised airway health in their young patients and to know what to say and who to work with. Dentists are often on the front lines with these medical disorders, Dr. Mitchell said, so the best approach is to include a dentist among the medical professionals on the team.

All too often, he added, dentists and physicians like himself — an ear, nose and throat doctor — don't interact with one another when they encounter a child with sleep disturbances more extensive than the typical sleep problems children have. The dental expertise is valuable for developing the approach to managing these cases, he said.

Dr. Ombrello said the conference's emphasis is right there in the title: "practical." She praises colleagues who are more proactive than simply reactive when addressing compromised airways and said her presentation will offer "solutions in real time."

According to the course description, at the end of this continuing education program, participants will be able to:

  • Use tools to identify children at risk for airway compromise.
  • Discuss diagnosis protocols with families.
  • Apply appropriate diagnostic methods to support medical decision-making.
  • Present various treatment options.
  • Immediately treat children falling within their scope of expertise and scope of practice.
  • Follow these children during the growth years to assess airway health when indicated.

"We're saving children, one child at a time, to let them become the best versions of themselves," Dr. Ombrello said.

Dr. Mitchell agreed. "The ultimate goal is to make children's lives better," he said.

To learn more and register, visit www.ada.org/CELive. Register by August 17 to receive the best rate.

Conference attendees have access to a discounted rate at The Westin Michigan Avenue Chicago through July 13, which is located at 909 N. Michigan Ave, one-third of a mile from ADA Headquarters, phone, 1-312-943-7200. Reference "Children's Airway Health Meeting." Reservations can also be made when going through the registration process via the link above.

Hashtags for the event are: #PediatricAir18 and #ADACELive.