Did you know snoring is one of the main signs of sleep apnea? Not all snorers have sleep apnea, but out of about 90 million Americans who snore, half of those may have sleep apnea.
As we age, our throats become narrower and our muscle tone declines. This is why many people who are middle-aged or older will snore frequently, without having a sleep disorder. With children, however, frequent snoring or snoring that disrupts sleep can indicate sleep apnea.
What are the symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea?
Pediatric sleep apnea can significantly hinder a child’s quality of sleep and capability during the daytime. Children with sleep apnea often experience:
- Random lapses in breathing during sleep
- Restless sleep, or waking up feeling unrested
- Coughing, choking or gasping for air during sleep
- Night-time sweats
- Sleep terrors
- Poor performance in school
- Difficulty paying attention during the day
- Behavioral problems and learning difficulties
What is sleep apnea?
Sleep apnea is a dangerous sleep disorder that causes periodic lapses in breathing throughout the night.
There are three types of sleep apnea, including obstructive sleep apnea, central sleep apnea, and mixed sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is the most common type of sleep apnea.
- OSA affects an estimated 26 percent of adults, aged 30 to 70 years old.
- OSA affects an estimated 1 to 10 percent of children.
When OSA is present, this means the airways are narrow, blocked, or obstructed, making it difficult to breathe freely during the night.
OSA manifests differently in children than adults. Sleep apnea in adults generally causes daytime sleepiness along with a number of other symptoms. Sleep apnea in children, also called pediatric obstructive sleep apnea, generally causes behavioral problems.
Orthodontics for Sleep Apnea
Can orthodontics treat pediatric sleep apnea? The short answer is yesand it is done in conjunction with other medical professionals. During your child’s exam, our doctors will perform a thorough history and clinical examination and may refer you to a physician, sleep medicine physician, or otolaryngologist (ENT) for further evaluation.
Can orthodontics cause pediatric sleep apnea? No, no orthodontic treatments have been shown to increase the likelihood or cause pediatric sleep apnea.
If you notice the symptoms of sleep apnea in your child, or your child snores, we encourage you to request a complimentary consultation with our orthodontists. We will help you determine whether early orthodontic treatment can benefit your child and improve his or her quality of life!
Does pediatric sleep apnea need to be treated?
Consider this: Sleep apnea causes lapses in breathing, which means oxygen is blocked from traveling to the brain for periods of time, generally around 10 seconds or so. Oxygen deprivation can lead to serious health complications, because these 10-second-lapses can occur hundreds of times in one night.
If left untreated, this disorder can lead to strokes, heart attacks and heart failure!
Sleep apnea is a dangerous disorder that requires professional treatment.
Still have questions?
If you or your child is in need of an orthodontist for sleep apnea, we encourage you to reach out to us today. At your complimentary consultation, our experienced orthodontists will assess your condition to help you make the best decision for your health!