We all know how important it is to get a good night’s sleep. As a parent, you know that sleep is even more important in the lives of your children. Concerned parents understand their child’s sleep patterns and know to look out for warning signs when it comes to sleep. Some parents think that it’s cute to walk in the room and hear snoring sounds from their child. However, it is vital to know that snoring is a sign of sleep apnea in children.
Snoring in Children
When you think of snoring, you might think of the annoying sound made by your spouse or your grandpa. Although snoring can be quite irritating when it is performed by an adult, it is a more serious problem in children. To put it simply, children should not snore under any circumstances.
Snoring and sleep apnea are not normal problems that can be ignored. While the sound of snoring can be irritating, it goes much further than this. Sleep apnea has serious repercussions, especially in children.
Why Deep Sleep is Important
Sleep is truly an amazing thing. When your child is sleeping, their brain is doing the important work of growing and development. Cognitive development occurs at a lightning fast pace during the younger years, which is why it can often seem like your child is learning something new every day. This is one of the most exciting parts of being a parent!
Unfortunately, snoring and sleep apnea stop this deep sleep and brain development from occurring at a normal rate. An easy to see consequence of this is tiredness and grouchiness in children. However, over time, the consequences become even more serious.
Signs of Sleep Apnea in Children
We’ve already discussed the fact that snoring is the biggest symptom of sleep apnea in children. However, you might not always be with your child while they are sleeping to hear the snoring. Here are some other signs which might be linked to sleep apnea in children:
- Daytime sleepiness
- Issues with academic or behavior performance in school
- Teeth grinding
- Bed wetting
- Irregular sleeping patterns
Finding Professional Help
Now that you know the symptoms and results of sleep apnea in children, you want to find answers as soon as possible. You might be surprised to find out that an experienced orthodontist can help you deal with sleep issues in your child. Since orthodontists spend all day, every day evaluating teeth and jaw problems, they have the benefit of being able to see signs of sleep apnea that are missed by other medical providers. These orthodontic signs include:
- Large overbites
- Tooth crowding
- Worn teeth from teeth grinding
- Lower jaw that sits far behind the upper jaw
The American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) recommends that you find an orthodontic practice for your child when they reach the age of seven. However, please seek help before that age if you notice symptoms of sleep apnea.
How an Orthodontist Can Assist
Orthodontists specialize in giving your child a healthy, beautiful smile, but they also have training in dentofacial orthopedics. This is a part of every university-trained, certified orthodontist, and this training includes information about SDB, or sleep disordered breathing. This is an area of high specialization, and you will only find this expertise with an orthodontist specialist.
If a problem is found, there are a variety of treatment methods that can help your child find restful sleep again. If the problem does not have an orthodontic base, the orthodontist will let you know where to find the treatment that your child needs.
Facial development changes greatly as a child ages, so early intervention is key. You’ve probably heard of routine removal of tonsils and adenoids for sleep apnea, but there are orthodontic options that are even more effective.
Studies have shown that appliances that move the lower jaw forward, such as expanders, are effective without the risks of major surgery. Please see an orthodontic specialist to see if this could be a good solution for your child. We also want to caution you against MyoTropics and other similar unproven treatments. Your orthodontic specialist will direct you to research-proven methods that will help improve the quality of your child’s life.
Since pediatric needs vary greatly from adult needs, choose a specialist that has plenty of experience in working with young children. Give your child the gifts of restful sleep and a beautiful smile: Two gifts they can continue to use for a lifetime!