The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends the regular screening of children for snoring. Children who snore every night and have additional symptoms or signs such as frequent snoring, labored breathing, gasps or snorting noises, episodes of not breathing, bedwetting, bluish discoloration of the skin, headaches on awakening, daytime sleepiness, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or learning problems may potentially have obstructive sleep apnea and should be evaluated further.
Many children with sleep apnea have larger tonsils and adenoids. The most common way to treat sleep apnea is to remove tonsils and adenoids when recommended. Other treatments include a nasal positive airway pressure which require your child to wear a mask while they sleep. Weight loss in overweight children can also help improve sleep apnea. Dentists play an important role, we evaluate the facial structures of a growing child and can recognize any reductions in size, shape, positioning of the jaw that could reduce the efficiency of airflow.
Your doctor may recommend lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, reducing nasal congestion, surgical interventions, continuous positive pressure machines and oral appliances.
Your dentist will complete a comprehensive evaluation of your child’s face, head and neck and the upper airway.
A polysomography test (PSG) typically consists of an all night recording test that measures sleep stages, heartbeat, breathing, electrocardiogram, blood oxygenation and arm and leg movements. There is also home sleep test (HST) which can be done at home and the data is analyzed by a board certified sleep physician.
If left untreated, obstructive sleep apnea in children can result in problems such as behavioral issues, cardiovascular problems, poor growth and developmental delays.
Symptoms or signs of sleep apnea in children include frequent snoring, labored breathing, gasps or snorting noises, episodes of not breathing, bedwetting, bluish discoloration of the skin, headaches on awakening, daytime sleepiness, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder or learning problems. Conditions that contribute to sleep apnea in children include enlarged tonsils and adenoids, obesity, poor muscle tone, some dental conditions (for example, an increased overbite), and seasonal allergies.
A dental evaluation may show a narrow upper and lower jaw, and problems with your child’s bite should be evaluated. The potential link between craniofacial growth and sleep apnea is of great interest to researchers and warrants further investigation.
Lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, reducing nasal congestion, surgical interventions, continuous positive pressure machines, oral appliances and sometimes combination of treatments are necessary to improve sleep apnea in children.
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