Treating Sleep Apnea in Chidren
Can My Daughter/Son Have Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea can affect people of all ages, and children are no exception. Between 1 and 5% of children suffer from sleep apnea and up to 27% of children suffer its main symptom, habitual snoring. Adults and children may experience some of the same symptoms however they may manifest in different ways. In addition to feeling fatigued throughout the day, children also tend to have behavior issues.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children
Symptoms of sleep apnea in children include:
- Abnormal breathing during sleep including coughing or choking
- Frequent awakenings or restlessness
- Frequent nightmares
- Difficulty awakening
- Chronic fatigue
- Excessive daytime sleepiness
- Daytime mouth breathing
- Poor or irregular sleep patterns
- Weight gain
- Academic disturbances
- Night sweats
When children don’t have a normal sleep pattern, they may become hyperactive which is why sleep apnea in children tends to be mistaken for ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder).
When sleep apnea is misdiagnosed, we are merely putting a bandaid on a single symptom, while your child may still be suffering. Ensuring you receive the correct diagnosis can save your child a lifetime of unnecessary therapies and prescriptions.
What Causes Children to Have Sleep Apnea?
The most common type of sleep apnea in children is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is caused by a blockage of air in the back of the throat or nose. Enlarged tonsils or adenoids are the most common cause of OSA in children, and obesity can also play a role.
Other causes of sleep apnea include:
- Congenital abnormalities
- Medical disorders such as heart failure or stroke
- Certain medications
Risk factors for sleep apnea include:
- Family history of sleep apnea
- Being overweight or obese
- Being born prematurely or with a low birth weight
- A large tongue
- Certain abnormalities in the skull or face
- Medical conditions including cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, and sickle cell disease.
Diagnosing and Treating Sleep Apnea in Children
Dentists are often the first to spot oral symptoms related to sleep apnea. If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, Dr. Bergida may recommend they see a specialist for a sleep study.
The sleep study provides information about your child’s breathing patterns, oxygen levels, and brain, heart, and lung function to the sleep specialist so they can correctly diagnose his or her condition.
Oral Appliance Therapy
If your child receives a diagnosis of sleep apnea, Dr. Bergida can help you get the right treatment. Oftentimes, an oral appliance may help alleviate the symptoms and help your child get the restful sleep they need to thrive.
Dr. Bergida offers the HealthyStart® system to treat sleep apnea and other sleep-related breathing disorders. This system is designed to not only treat the root cause of your child’s sleep apnea but also straighten their teeth without the use of traditional braces.
Contact Us For Sleep Apnea Treatment
If your child is experiencing sleep apnea symptoms, give us a call at (718) 849-9472 or fill out the contact form. We’re ready to assist them on their road to recovery. When your child sleeps well, you’ll both have better days.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sleep Apnea
What are some additional options for treating sleep apnea?
Some people may benefit from certain lifestyle changes that could alleviate their symptoms.
- Losing weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise can help relieve and even eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.
- Positional Therapy — Training yourself to sleep on your side can reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.
- Mouth and throat exercises can strengthen your muscles so they’re less likely to contribute to sleep apnea.
- Surgery – Surgeries to remove excess tissue such as nasal surgery, adenoidectomies, maxillomandibular advancement surgery, and tracheostomies can also be used to treat sleep apnea.
These changes may be easily addressed in adults, however, training your child to sleep on their side, or undergoing surgery to address the issue may be too invasive for a child. An oral appliance may be a simple, long-lasting fix to treat sleep apnea.
Is it easy to adjust to wearing an oral appliance?
Oral appliances align your jaw to free your airways, which may place pressure on your teeth. You may experience some discomfort in the beginning when adjusting to the new appliance, the benefits are worth it. And an appliance is much easier to wear and get used to than other treatments, such as a CPAP machine.
How will untreated sleep apnea affect my child’s oral health?
Sleep apnea is linked to a variety of oral disorders including bad breath, mouth ulcers, development and progression of periodontal disease (gum disease), and TMJ.
Does insurance cover an oral device for sleep apnea?
Insurance may cover a portion of the cost. It’s best to contact our office at (929) 335-7284 and we’ll help you determine if your provider will help you cover the expense. Flexible financing is available and we proudly accept Medicare. Visit our financing page to learn more.