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Can Children Have Sleep Apnea and Can a Dentist Treat it?
Although sleep apnea is more commonly found in adults, in rare cases, it can also occur in children. It is normal to see parents crash from exhaustion, but this serious medical condition may be the reason your child wakes up repeatedly during the night. In this article, you will find out about sleep apnea in children and how a dentist can diagnose and treat the condition.
The effects of sleep apnea
Sleep apnea happens when breathing stops entirely or gets shallow during sleep. It could be a result of large tongue or tonsils blocking the air passages, the collapse of the soft tissues located behind the throat or the inability of the brain to send the proper signals necessary to sustain continuous breathing while sleeping.
Sleep apnea could cause many issues for children, with the most apparent one being agitation. Other problems include adaptation issues, slow development rate, excessive drowsiness in the daytime and behavioral or attention disorders, all of which can be caused by lack of adequate quality sleep. Sleep apnea is more common in kids between ages two and eight.
Up to 2 to 4 percent of children around the world have sleep apnea, but it is more difficult to detect in kids than in adults. One major differentiating factors are that most children dealing with sleep apnea are not overweight, unlike in adults. Since children mostly spend their time sleeping, getting healthy sleep is a crucial part of their health and development.
The physical signs of sleep apnea:
- Frequent night waking
- Loud, habitual snoring
- Mouth breathing
- Enlarged tonsils
- Excessive sweating at night
- Headache in the morning
How the dentist can help
Dentists are the most likely health care professionals to detect signs of sleep apnea in your train. Since the dentist has specialized training on the oral cavity, they can tell diagnose different issues with dental and overall health by merely checking the child’s mouth. By taking your child for routine dental visits and evaluation, you can easily prevent potential health complications in the child.
When you get to the dental office, the dentist will check the appearance of the child’s teeth, gum, throat and mouth and will be able to tell if the child is susceptible to sleep apnea. Children who are teething, regardless of how young they are, should be taken for routine dental consultations.
If the dentist believes that your child may have sleep apnea, they will collaborate with other doctors for verification and treatment. With their expertise on matters related to the entire mouth, neck and face, they will ensure that the child continues to have good health. In most situations, the dentist will recommend an oral appliance as the non-surgical solution. Sometimes, treating the child’s allergies may help the child breathe better while sleeping. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to solve the problem.
If you suspect your child has sleep apnea or you want to keep your child’s oral health in good condition, book an appointment with the dental office as soon as possible.
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