Sleep disorders are very common and significant problems which are often undiagnosed and untreated. Have you ever wondered what the most vulnerable but unrecognized population category of sleep disordered breathing? It’s children.
In the case of a child experiencing sleeping disorder from a very early age, they may naturally develop many comorbidities. For example, they might get cognitive developmental delay, cardiovascular diseases, various mental disorders, craniofacial deformations, and/or many other pathologies.
In some instances, craniofacial deficient development and malocclusions may negatively affect the onset of sleep disorders. So, it’s great that there is a doctor who has put a lot of effort into treating kids who have problems with proper sleep. Please meet Dr. Audrey Yoon, a dual-trained orthodontist and pediatric dentist specializing in sleep medicine.
Dr. Audrey Yoon has mastered and provided a full scope of non-surgical and surgical orthodontics techniques for airways management including airway growth modification, oral appliances and clear aligner therapy for sleep apnea. She uses pediatric palatal expansion, surgical orthodontic treatment of MMA (Maxillomandibular Advancement), customized MARPE (Miniscrew-Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion), DOME (Distraction Osteogenesis Maxillary Expansion), and many others protocols to develop customized treatment plans for each individual depending on the diagnoses.
Within the past decade, Dr. Audrey Yoon has pioneered a growth modification protocol for those children who face various challenges of sleep disorders breathing. Following her guidelines, dentists and orthodontists can implement some modifications during the growth of craniofacial structure to achieve significant changes in the patient’s growth patterns and help diminish or eliminate their sleeping problems. Currently, this structural master guideline is the first of its kind to be used by medical practitioners of all specialties on an interdisciplinary team for helping many patients develop a natural healthy sleep.
A commentary from Dr. Audrey Yoon regarding her recent publications: “We, dentists and orthodontists, have the ability to change the trajectory of growth when interventions are implemented at the right time, targeting the right structure. I developed the strategies used for targeted therapy at distinct developmental stages to maximize the growth potential and improve the growth pattern more favorable. It is time to approach pediatric OSA from a phenotypic focus.”
She teaches this growth modification protocol in the curriculum of the Tufts University Pediatric Dental Sleep Mini-residency. This program is the first university-based pediatric dental sleep mini-residency program using an evidence-based hands-on workshop to educate global leaders in this field.
Dr. Yoon has also established the World Dentofacial Sleep Society (WDSS) this year and currently serves as a founding co-president. WDSS is an international non-profit organization for dentists to raise the awareness of the global public health problem of sleep disorders from early childhood to adult. It aims to promote education for the screening, diagnosis, and multidisciplinary treatment modalities and to advance research between professional organizations in the field of sleep.
We are looking forward to further innovative work from her to advance the field of sleep medicine.
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