Sleep Apnea (sleep disturbed breathing) in Children

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that disturbs the breathing process while the person is asleep. According to statistics, as many as 4% of children between the ages of two and eight suffer from some form of sleep apnea. Although it affects adults as well as children, the symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea are different. 

Sleep apnea often goes undiagnosed because the interruptions in breathing only last for a few seconds, and the person usually doesn’t wake up during an episode and doesn’t realize that their breathing has been disturbed. In addition to interfering with your child’s ability to get a good night’s sleep, sleep apnea can also increase the risk of other health problems. 

At Oasis Pediatric Dental Care and Orthodontics, Dr. Nathalie Phaeton and Dr. Ki Youn Kil and our dental team offer a range of pediatric dentistry services at our practice in Falls Church, Virginia, including remedies for sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea symptoms in children

One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is loud snoring. The most common form of sleep apnea in children is obstructive sleep apnea. It results when the airway becomes momentarily blocked as the throat muscles or tongue relax. The tonsils and adenoids can also obstruct the airway while children sleep.

Central sleep apnea is caused by a malfunction with the brain’s signals to the muscles that control breathing. Central sleep apnea is less common, but the symptoms tend to overlap with obstructive sleep apnea.

In addition to snoring, children with sleep apnea may also have the following symptoms:

If you suspect your child may have sleep apnea, you may be able to see the pauses in breathing by observing them while they sleep.

Over time, the disruptions in your child’s sleep routine can lead to additional problems such as poor academic performance due to feeling sleepy throughout the day. It may also increase the risk of hyperactivity and behavioral problems. 

What to do if you think your child has sleep apnea

Although it’s a sleep disorder, dentists treat sleep apnea after a specialist makes the diagnosis.  They can prescribe an oral appliance that helps to keep the jaw aligned and the airway open and unobstructed while the child sleeps. CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) is a device that delivers oxygen through a mask while the person sleeps.

According to the Sleep Apnea Foundation, children with sleep apnea usually benefit from having their tonsils removed (in approximately 70 to 90% of cases, obstructive sleep apnea symptoms disappear after removal of the tonsils and adenoids).

If you have concerns or suspect that your child may be suffering from sleep apnea, our dentists will review their symptoms and make recommendations for further testing and treatment.

For more information about how to recognize the signs and symptoms of sleep apnea and the treatment options available for children, contact our office today or schedule an appointment online.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Benefits of Silver Diamine Fluoride

Silver diamine fluoride (SDF) can help halt cavities as well as protect teeth from developing them. Read on to learn about what SDF is and some of its many benefits.

4 Ways to Help Stop Nighttime Teeth Grinding in Children

Nighttime teeth grinding may not seem like much of an issue, but it can increase your child’s risk of developing a number of oral health issues. Learn more about the signs and treatment options for teeth grinding, and why you shouldn’t ignore it.

Does My Child Need Sealants?

It takes time and practice for young kids to learn how to adequately brush their teeth. In the meantime, your child could be at greater risk for cavities. Here’s what you need to know about how sealants can help protect your child’s teeth.

Is Nitrous Oxide Safe for My Child?

Nitrous oxide is safe and noninvasive and can be used to sedate children. Here’s what you need to know about how nitrous oxide works, when it’s used, and whether it’s right for your child.