Trying to troubleshoot the reasons behind a child’s behavior problems or delayed learning is an often frustrating process. It may not occur to you to mention these issues to your dentist. Yet child sleep apnea can be a possible cause, and it’s certainly one worth investigating with your dental team. 

The Hawthorne Smile Spa team has experience in evaluating and treating children with sleep apnea. If you think your child could have it, ask about it at their next exam or call us today at 310-982-4895 to schedule a consultation in our Hawthorne, CA office. 

Like the condition in adults, pediatric sleep apnea happens when your child repeatedly struggles to breathe during sleep. This happens when their airway narrows or becomes blocked and can happen as many as hundreds of times a night. Also similar to adult sleep apnea, it negatively impacts your child’s health and can cause many related problems. That’s why early diagnosis and treatment are so important! 

Both delays in learning and behavior problems are common in children who suffer from sleep apnea. 

Other common symptoms include:

  • Bed wetting
  • Night terrors
  • Snorting, choking, or coughing during sleep
  • Mouth breathing
  • Difficulty gaining weight
  • Hyperactivity
  • Trouble focusing on tasks or activities

How Child Sleep Apnea Differs From Adult Sleep Apnea

In cases of adult apnea and child sleep apnea, the condition is more common if there is a family history of obstructive sleep apnea. Like adults with the disorder, children who have apnea may be overweight. With children, enlarged tonsils and adenoids may be a contributing factor. Removing their tonsils may offer relief. 

For child sleep apnea, additional risk factors include:

  • Cerebral palsy 
  • Neuromuscular disease
  • Down syndrome
  • Low birth weight
  • Abnormalities in the face and/or skull

Find Relief With a Sleep Apnea Appliance

In both adults and children, the key to treating sleep apnea is keeping the airway clear and making it easier to breathe. There are two commonly prescribed methods for doing so: a sleep apnea appliance or a CPAP machine. Check out our overview of each:

  • CPAP – A CPAP clears the airway with a stream of pressurized air delivered by a machine. It often involves wearing a mask over the face, which some children may find disruptive or even a little scary. It works for even severe cases of sleep apnea. 
  • Sleep Apnea Appliance – A sleep apnea appliance looks and feels a lot like a sports mouthguard. It works by moving the jaw slightly forward into a position that keeps the airway open. Since it is so unobtrusive, it can be used in almost any situation including sleepovers and camping trips. Unlike a CPAP, no batteries or electricity are required. It may not be as effective as a CPAP to treat severe sleep apnea. 

Given that obstructive sleep apnea is often found in multiple family members, you may want the Hawthorne Smiles team to evaluate you too! We can also fit you for a custom-made sleep apnea appliance. Like your child, you may find it a more comfortable and convenient treatment method than a CPAP.

To schedule a sleep apnea consultation, call us today at 310-982-4895.