Sleep Apnea in Children
According to Dr. Felix Liao, DDS, Holistic Mouth Doctor, “ Whole body health depends on a good night’s sleep. A little oxygen deficit night after night adds up to whole body bankruptcy decades later.” Sleep apnea doesn’t just affect adults. Frequent misdiagnosis of the symptoms and limited awareness among parents can prevent kids with this condition from getting care. At Progressive Dentistry, Sleep & Wellness, our Glen Mills dental specialist works closely with parents to identify the oral signs and symptoms of this condition and create a custom treatment plan.
How Do You Know if Your Child Has Sleep Apnea?
With such a high rate of misdiagnosis and mistreatment, it’s incredibly important that parents bring their child in for a screening if they notice any of these symptoms. Dr. McCoy is specially trained to recognize the many factors that can cause a pinched airway and even obstructive sleep apnea.
Nighttime Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children
As with OSA in adults, sleep apnea in children occurs overnight. If you notice any of these abnormalities at night, your child may have sleep apnea:
- Loud snoring on a regular basis
- More restless than usual and sleeping in unusual positions
- Disruptions in their breathing, including pauses and gasps
- Heavy sweating during sleep
- Bed wetting
Daytime Symptoms of Pediatric Sleep Apnea
Part of the reason why pediatric sleep apnea goes untreated for so long is that the symptoms are often misdiagnosed as ADD and ADHD. Just as OSA causes adults to experience fatigue and mood swings during the day, children with sleep apnea also experience behavioral changes due to lack of sleep. Often, this means they act out, daydream, or appear to not pay attention in class, which is misread as the warning signs of ADHD. If the underlying cause of your child’s behavior is OSA, the medication for the ADD/ADHD may not be needed.
Daytime symptoms parents should look out for include:
- Difficulty waking up
- Extremely sleepy throughout the day
- Increase in breathing through the mouth
- Mood swings, irritability, aggressiveness, crankiness, and easily agitated
- Headaches in the morning
- Increase in behavioral problems at home and school
Diagnosing & Treating Your Child’s Sleep Apnea
Just like diagnosing sleep apnea in adults, determining if your child has sleep apnea starts with a screening and test. After a careful examination and discussion, if appropriate, we will set up a sleep test with a board-certified sleep specialist. The primary treatments for sleep apnea are CPAP masks which gently push air through the patient’s lungs and oral appliances which remove the blockage while they sleep. Here is a brief summary of each of these treatments:
Continuous Airway Pressure Masks (CPAP) can be effective for treating sleep apnea in children. Important considerations are that the device fits the child properly and that they know how to properly use and wear the device. While there are numerous CPAP devices on the market, only a small number of pediatric masks are approved by the FDA.
There are also oral appliances that remodel the jaw bones. Several designs are used prior to age 12, but after that, the approach has to be changed. The jaw can be genetically stimulated to grow and enhance the size of the mouth, nasal airway, and throat airway. These appliances are called DNA appliances or DNA Vivos system. This process is painless and occurs while the appliance is worn during sleep.
Get Your Child the Care they Need in Glen Mills, PA
If you suspect that your child may be suffering from sleep apnea, it’s vital to get a diagnosis as soon as possible. Untreated sleep apnea manifests in a variety of destructive ways – set your child up for success by getting them the treatment they deserve. Dr. Robert McCoy is a dental expert at treating patients who suffer from disorders such as sleep apnea. Count on our dentist in Glen Mills, PA to educate you on your options, and recommend the most effective plan for your children. Contact us today to see how we can help your child regain their ability to sleep through the night.