Sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders, affecting millions of Americans. What’s even more surprising is that an estimated 80% of cases are undiagnosed – that’s a lot of people not getting a full night’s sleep. While those who are older do have a higher risk of sleep apnea, this disorder can actually affect anyone at any time, including children. Read on to learn the signs, causes, and potential treatment options for children’s sleep apnea.
Children’s Sleep Apnea: A Quick Review
There are different types of sleep apnea, but the most common is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This occurs when the throat and/or jaw muscles relax to the point that they block the airway, causing interruptions in breathing. This problem can occur sometimes hundreds of times throughout the night, leading to poor quality sleep. While anyone can be affected by sleep apnea, the most common age range for children is between 2 and 8 years old. According to sleepapnea.org, it’s estimated that 1% to 4% of kids have sleep apnea.
What Causes Kids’ Sleep Apnea?
Usually, obesity is a main factor that leads to a narrow airway, however a more common cause in children is enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Your child may also be at a higher risk of sleep apnea due to family history, having a large tongue, or other factors.
How Do You Know if Your Child Has Sleep Apnea?
Loud snoring is one of the most common symptoms of OSA because the sound indicates difficulty breathing. However, many of the other warning signs are not as obvious. That’s why you should be on the lookout for:
- Frequently breathing through the mouth
- Coughing or choking while asleep
- Waking up gasping for breath
- Sleep terrors
- Pauses in breathing
- Difficulty getting out of bed in the morning
- Falling asleep during the day
Treatment for Children
Thankfully, children’s sleep apnea is treatable with the help of a trained professional. There are variety of options that a skilled dentist can use based on your child’s needs. Primarily, they may recommend the removal of the tonsils or adenoids to clear the airway. They can also provide a custom-made oral appliance to shift the jaw in a way that promotes easy breathing. In some cases, the dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment to open up the airway as your child grows and develops.
Don’t let sleep apnea get in the way of your little one’s health and rest. Contact a sleep dentist to get treatment and help your child count sheep in comfort!
Meet the Dentist
Dr. Tad Morgan is a highly trained sleep dentist in Bullard with decades of experience under his belt. He has extensive education in sleep apnea therapy, and his practice is one of only two offices in the nation to have The Breathe Institute affiliate status. He even specializes in pediatric sleep apnea treatment to help little ones enjoy restful nights. To schedule a consultation with Dr. Morgan, he can be reached through his website or by phone at (903) 825-1112.