Understanding Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder that can affect anyone at any age, even young children. In fact, it’s estimated that between 1 and 10 percent of children suffer from sleep apnea. The disrupted sleep caused by this disorder can have long-term effects and manifest in such adverse consequences as hindered growth, difficulty concentrating, behavioral problems, and poor academic performance.
At our practice in Powell, TN, we offer methods of treating sleep apnea in children, including the HealthyStart™ program, that open up the airway so your child can sleep easily and get the rest they need.
Does My Child
Have Sleep Apnea?
The first step toward treating your child for sleep apnea is determining if they suffer from this sleep disorder. So how do you know when your child’s snoring is harmless or a sign of something more serious? Check your child for the following symptoms that may be indicative of sleep apnea:
- Difficulty waking in the morning
- Daytime sleepiness
- Mouth breathing
- Frequent headaches, especially in the morning
- Speaking with a nasally voice
- Frequently irritable, aggressive, agitated, or cranky
- Behavioral problems
- Trouble concentrating
- Poor academic performance
- Loud snoring
- Long pauses in breathing
- Restless sleep with tossing and turning
- Frequently waking up
- Sleeping with their head in unusual positions
- Sweating heavily during sleep
The Link Between
Sleep Apnea and ADHD
Has your child been diagnosed with ADHD or other behavioral problems? For some children, the root cause may be sleep apnea.
Symptoms like trouble concentrating, irritability, daydreaming, daytime fatigue, and unusual behavior are often diagnosed as ADHD, leading the child to be unnecessarily medicated. However, several reports suggest that as many as 25 percent of ADHD diagnoses may be linked to symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing such as habitual snoring and sleep apnea. If your child has been diagnosed with ADHD or another behavioral problem, it may be worthwhile to have them evaluated for sleep apnea.
If you suspect your child suffers from sleep apnea, it’s important to get a professional diagnosis so the condition can be properly treated. The most common way to have your child evaluated for sleep apnea is to have them undergo a sleep study. During the study, your child will spend the night in a sleep center where specialists monitor their sleep and breathing to determine if they have a sleep disorder.
You can speak with your child’s pediatrician to get a referral to a sleep specialist who can order your sleep study. Once you have a diagnosis of sleep apnea, we’ll help find the right treatment for your child.
Treatment for Children with Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea in children is often related to their physical development and can be caused by the size of the jaw, palate, tonsils, and tongue. Some children with sleep apnea may benefit from the removal of tonsils or adenoids to make more room in the airway. CPAP is another common treatment but many children, as well as adults, find it difficult to use.
We offer several treatments as alternatives to CPAP or surgery that help open the airway, minimizing snoring and sleep apnea symptoms, so your child can get the sleep they need.
For many children, snoring and sleep apnea is caused by a narrow or constricted airway. At Michael J. Solly, DDS, we offer orthodontic treatment to open up the airway so your child can breathe easier. To treat snoring and sleep apnea, it’s important to start orthodontic treatment early, when your child is still growing and their dental structures can be molded more easily.
We offer both traditional orthodontics to treat sleep apnea as well as the HealthyStart™ System. This system features soft, comfortable, removable oral devices to gently correct the growth and alignment of the lower jaw and expand the arches. This helps open the airway and establishes proper oral habits so your child can breathe more easily. This system also guides the incoming permanent teeth into proper alignment, providing the added benefit of a straight smile.
Many children who experience sleep apnea, especially older children whose growth has slowed, can benefit from wearing a small, comfortable oral appliance while they sleep. Similar to the oral appliances made for adults who suffer from this sleep disorder, these devices are designed to move the lower jaw forward and hold the tongue in place, allowing the airway to stay open while sleeping.
You can learn more about your child’s sleep apnea treatment options by scheduling a consultation at our practice in Powell, TN.