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.
Top 6 Symptoms Parents Should Look Out For
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 treatment for sleep apnea is oral appliance therapy. These appliances remove the blockage while your child sleeps.
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. Dr. McCoy is a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, so you can count on him to educate you about 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.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes sleep apnea in children?
There are many reasons children may have sleep apnea, and there can be more than one cause contributing to the sleep disorder. Risk factors may include large tonsils or adenoids, obesity, genetic syndromes, and more.
Do children with sleep apnea always snore?
More than 10 percent of children snore regularly, but not all children suffer from sleep apnea. In fact, less than three percent of children who snore have the sleep disorder. It’s likely your child may have disturbed sleep, or when sleep is interrupted repeatedly for a long period of time.
Can a child die from sleep apnea?
Children with untreated sleep apnea can lead to growth stunts, worsened medical conditions, and even lead to more serious health problems. This may include high blood pressure, heart disease, and even death.
That’s why it’s important to seek a sleep study at the first sign of sleep apnea. This will determine the best course of treatment for your child to ensure a long, healthy life.
How is sleep apnea treated in children?
The most common treatment for sleep apnea is oral appliance therapy. Similar to a mouth guard, it works by removing the blockage while your child sleeps. Dr. McCoy also features an oral device that remodels the jaw bone, called a vivos appliance.
There are several other treatments that may work best for your child, such as weight loss, sleep position therapy, and nasal allergy treatment. After a proper diagnosis, Dr. McCoy will discuss your child’s options and recommend the most effective solution.
Can children outgrow sleep apnea?
Many children who suffer from sleep apnea may outgrow the condition. However, children with untreated sleep apnea are more susceptible to developing behavioral problems and health complications. That’s why it’s crucial to seek treatment at the first sign of the sleep disorder.
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