What are Signs of Sleep Apnea in Children? Family Dentistry FAQs

Sleep Apnea New York, NY

About one to 10% of children will have sleep apnea, according to the American Family Physician. Some children will outgrow the condition. However, it is a good idea to seek treatment, as it can cause failure to thrive. Read on to learn more about this condition and what a family dentist can do for it.

What are the signs of sleep apnea in kids?

During the night, parents should check on children who are at risk for sleep apnea. Many children who snore have sleep apnea. If parents notice pauses or gasps, it is likely that the child is stopping and starting breathing. Even if children are not snoring, they may experience heavy breathing during sleep.

Kids who have sleep apnea often sleep in odd positions. This is due to a restless sleep where the child is tossing and turning. Restless sleep can result in sleepwalking. Some children may wet the bed, even if the child has previously stayed dry.

During the day, children with sleep apnea may be excessively sleepy and fall asleep. It can be difficult for them to wake up each morning. Children may have behavioral issues in school and have trouble paying attention. Sleep apnea can cause children to become hyperactive and teachers might think the child has a learning problem.

When does sleep apnea need treatment?

Unlike adults, there are no guidelines on when sleep apnea should be treated in children. Because many children will not experience sleep apnea, there is not sufficient research in the area yet. If a child has a sleep study, then the child will receive an apnea index number. A number higher than one is considered abnormal.

If a child under 12 has an AI number of five to 10, this is mild to moderate sleep apnea. The guidelines on how to proceed here are simple. A family dentist can treat this with an oral appliance. However, there are no guidelines for children with an AI number of one to five. Many studies have found that children who have sleep apnea have problems with behavior. A family dentist can help parents decide when to treat children with lower AI scores.

What are some other sleep apnea treatments?

Usually, dental appliances for children work well once the bones have stopped growing. However, younger children have other options as well. For example, devices to quickly expand the diameter of the hard palate can be helpful. This provides more space in the mouth, making sleep apnea episodes less likely. This treatment only works for children whose bones are still growing, however.

Visit a family dentist for sleep apnea treatment

Getting your child a sleep study can help a health care provider diagnose the condition. After the sleep study, a family dentist can work with the doctor to find a good treatment. This can include dental appliances and palatal expanders. Helping your child manage sleep apnea can help them become healthy and well-adjusted.

Request an appointment here: https://www.stevensyropdds.com or call Steven B. Syrop, DDS at (212) 548-3272 for an appointment in our New York office.

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