Working in a dental office, one Carrington mom knew the signs.

Her then 2-year-old son, Easton, snored and ground his teeth when he slept.

Brooke Kollman, a dental assistant for Garr Dental Center in Carrington, screens for snoring and teeth grinding as part of her work. Snoring, mouth breathing and teeth grinding can all be signs of sleep apnea in children. Sleep apnea often occurs when tonsils, adenoids, soft palate and tongue block the airway, causing upper airway resistance syndrome.

So Brooke and her husband, Justin, scheduled a visit with Jamestown Regional Medical Center’s Ear, Nose & Throat specialist, Dr. W. Thomas Coombe. The family had already met Dr. Coombe when Easton needed tubes in his ears the year prior. Dr. Coombe joined JRMC in 2017 and has nearly 30 years of experience.

A blocked airway can affect a child’s and family’s life. A blocked airway can also reduce a child’s performance in school, lead to behavioral issues or, if left unattended, can even cause heart failure, Dr. Coombe said.

The Kollmans’ older son, Jayce, now 6, had also needed an ENT for tubes, tonsils and adenoids when he was a toddler. At that time, the couple chose a bigger facility for his care. Jayce is healthy now, however, the experience wasn’t one they’d recommend, Brooke said.

The couple prefers JRMC because Dr. Coombe and his team were caring and compassionate. Calming and preparing Jayce for the procedure was difficult if not impossible, Brooke said. However, the staff at JRMC, especially Brooke Thom, a registered nurse in the surgery department, calmed their fears. Easton jumped right into her arms before the surgery, his mother said.

“Dr. Coombe makes you feel like you’re the only one there,” she said. “He takes his time.”

The popsicles after surgery helped too, she said, smiling.

Indications for tonsillectomy are generally severe and/or reoccurring throat pain as well as enlargement or obstruction in the upper airway. Tonsillectomies are one of the most common procedures in children. Each year, more than 530,000 children under the age of 15 have their tonsils removed, according to the National Institute of Health.

Snoring and teeth grinding, like Easton, are common symptoms, Dr. Coombe said. Other signs include:

  • grumpy or grouchiness in the morning; a child that’s hard to wake
  • bed wetting
  • sleepwalking
  • sleep posturing with the chin up
  • difficulty swallowing, choking on food, picky eater

The second reason the Kollmans chose JRMC was location. With their older son, in the bigger facility, the Kollmans had to stay overnight at the hospital.

Care close to home was so much easier on Easton and the whole family, Brooke said. Because they didn’t have to travel, the boys could sleep in their own beds and not disrupt their routine.

“Easton was back at daycare the next day,” she said.

After the procedure, the Kollmans could schedule Easton’s follow-up and speech therapy appointments in Jamestown, saving them time and miles. The patient access team also co-scheduled Easton’s visits whenever it could, meaning the family could do all the appointments the same day.

Easton, now 3, is ready to enjoy the summer.

“We’re so glad to have such great care this close,” Brooke said.

To learn more about tubes, tonsils and adenoids, or to schedule an appointment, call (701) 952-4878.

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