Your Child May Have Pediatric Sleep Apnea

Does your child snore? If so, do not write it off as a quirky habit they have developed or seemed to have inherited from one of their parents. Snoring, especially in children, is not normal and should be addressed. If your child is snoring, make sure you take note of other symptoms they may be experiencing. Keep reading to learn more about pediatric sleep apnea, the hallmark symptoms, and when it’s time to go get sleep apnea treatment for your child.

What is Pediatric Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is an essential topic in pediatrics that is frequently overlooked, especially in the context of children with neurodevelopmental delays. The American Thoracic Society and the American Academy of Pediatrics define obstructive sleep apnea in children as a sleep-related breathing disorder with intermittent upper airway obstruction that disrupts normal sleep patterns.

Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a childhood disorder in which there is upper airway dysfunction causing complete or partial airway obstruction during sleep, leading to decreased oxygen saturation or arousal from sleep. It can have dramatic effects on childhood behavior, neurodevelopment, metabolism, and overall health. Early recognition, evaluation, and treatment are important to prevent long-term consequences.

Pediatric sleep apnea can lead to many health issues, deformities, and more. People with sleep apnea have a higher risk of:

  • Obesity
  • Cardiovascular issues
  • Depression
  • Dental issues

As such, it is important to address the underlying cause of your child’s sleep apnea as soon as possible before symptoms and their quality of life become worse.

What Causes Pediatric Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a unique condition in which every person who suffers from it may have a different root cause. Many times, sleep apnea is brought on by lifestyle habits, health issues, or anatomy of the face and neck.

The incidence of pediatric OSA peaks between 2 to 8 years of age due to:

  • Increased growth of tonsils
  • Large adenoids relative to the size of the upper airway
  • Prematurity
  • Down syndrome
  • African American race
  • Daycare attendance
  • Obesity
  • Tobacco exposure
  • Boys are at an increased risk after puberty, but the prepubertal risk is equal among boys and girls.

Frequent Mouth Breathing

If your child is frequently breathing through their mouth, this is a major sign of sleep apnea. Mouth breathing in children is only necessary if the child is sick or suffering from allergies. Otherwise, breathing through the nose is the correct way to breathe because the nose provides a filtration system that removes toxins from the air, providing more oxygen to the blood and cleaner air to the lungs. Mouth breathing can cause dental issues, bad breath, sleep disruption, and facial abnormalities.

It can be hard to tell if your child is a frequent mouth breather, especially if they are in school and activities most of the day and are unaware of it themselves. That is why it is important to take note of other symptoms that go along with frequent mouth breathing.

Signs of frequent mouth breathing include:

  • Frequent bad breath
  • Frequent cavities
  • Dry mouth
  • Chapped lips
  • Issues with sleeping through the night
  • Difficulty eating with their mouth closed

Behavioral Problems

If your child is experiencing behavioral issues, especially at school, they may be experiencing sleep apnea. Even though it may seem like they are sleeping through the night, sleep apnea does not allow for full, restful, restorative sleep. This can quickly lead to issues such as brain fog, daytime sleepiness, irritability, and more.

A new study found that obstructive sleep apnea, a common form of sleep-disordered breathing (SDB), is associated with increased rates of ADHD-like behavioral problems in children as well as other adaptive and learning problems. The odds of having behavioral problems were four to five times higher in children with incident sleep apnea and six times higher in children who had persistent sleep apnea. Compared to youth who never had SDB, children with sleep apnea were more likely to have parent-reported problems in the areas of hyperactivity, attention, disruptive behaviors, communication, social competency, and self-care. Children with persistent sleep apnea also were seven times more likely to have parent-reported learning problems and three times more likely to have school grades of C or lower.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, obstructive sleep apnea occurs in about two percent of children who are otherwise healthy. Children with sleep apnea generally have larger tonsils and adenoids than other children their age, and most children with sleep apnea have a history of loud snoring.

Issues With Sleep

Not all children with pediatric sleep apnea have snoring as a symptom. If your child is having issues with sleep, they may be suffering from sleep apnea. Children should generally be sleeping through the night by age two, with the exception of possibly one or two wakings a night as toddlers. By age five and up, however, children should generally be sleeping through the night with minimal issues.

Children who have pediatric sleep apnea do not get restful, restorative sleep. Their sleep is constantly interrupted, which can lead to frequent wakings and other issues during sleep. These include:

  • Bedwetting
  • Snoring
  • Restless sleep, including crying episodes
  • Pauses between breathing

If you’re worried about your child’s sleep, take a look at their bedtime routine and see if it needs to be switched up. Making some healthy lifestyle changes can be just the thing they need. Some ideas include:

  • Keep a consistent bedtime routine in the same order
  • Read books or do another calming activity
  • Try not to give water to your child right before bed
  • Give a warm bath before bed
  • Cut off electronics at least an hour before bedtime

If you do all of the above things and are still experiencing sleep issues, it may be time to get your child evaluated for pediatric sleep apnea.

How is Pediatric Sleep Apnea Treated?

At Gorman Health and Wellness, we treat pediatric sleep apnea without the need for a loud, bulky, uncomfortable CPAP machine. We use the myobrace treatment, which uses myofunctional orthodontic techniques to address the poor oral habits (known as myofunctional habits) that are the real, underlying causes of crooked teeth and uses light, intermittent forces to align the teeth. Myofunctional orthodontic techniques have been practiced by Orthodontists and Dentists around the world for over 50 years.

This is done through the use of a series of removable dental appliances that are worn for just 1-2 hours each day and overnight while sleeping.

Daily use of the Myobrace combined with regular activities (to improve breathing, muscle function, and tongue posture) results in straighter teeth and improved function, leading to optimal facial development and a healthier smile.

In addition, pediatric sleep apnea can be treated by straightening the teeth. The most common way to straighten teeth, and the method that probably popped up first in your head, is by using braces. But there are other ways, non-traditional ones, that address the underlying causes of crooked teeth.

Locked-up bones in the cranium, mouth breathing, tongue position, habits like thumb sucking, nutrition, posture, and genetics all have an effect on how the face grows, the jaws form, and the teeth line up. Using light, flexible wires for orthodontic treatment is more than just a way to create a beautiful smile – it is a preventive health approach.

Lightwire Orthodontics aims to develop the upper jaw and the mid-face FORWARD. We all have the genetic potential to accommodate ALL our teeth, but a lot of obstacles can be in the way. Rather than possibly pulling teeth to create space, we work on removing the obstacles. Growth is our biggest ally when it comes to helping our patients develop their full potential and creating stable results. The width and position of the upper jaw determine how much forward the lower jaw can grow, which greatly helps treat sleep apnea issues in your child.

Sleep Apnea Treatment with Gorman Health and Wellness

As a parent, there is nothing more difficult than watching your child suffer from issues beyond your control. However, if your child is snoring or experiencing any of the above symptoms, there is hope for a better quality of life with pediatric sleep apnea treatment.

Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.

Together, the application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients.

“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour, allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.

For more information on Dr. Gorman and improving your child’s sleep apnea, contact us today.

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