girl sleeping in bed before going to the pediatric dental office

Effects of Sleep Apnea in Children

April 22, 2019 5:57 pm

If you think your child has sleep apnea, you’re probably concerned about its effects. Here, we’ll explain what this sleep disorder is, what the effects are, and the treatment options that are available.

What Is Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea in children is a condition in which a child’s breathing is repeatedly blocked, either partially or completely, while they’re sleeping due to a blockage or narrowing of the upper airway during sleep. Breathing disruption during sleep is more common in children with enlarged tonsils and adenoids, sickle cell disease, cerebral palsy, neuromuscular disease, obesity, Down syndrome, and abnormalities of the face or skull.

Common Signs

Indicators of pediatric sleep apnea include:

  • Snoring
  • Restless sleep
  • Mouth breathing
  • Sleep terrors
  • Bed wetting
  • Frequent pauses in breathing
  • Snorting, coughing, or choking

Effects of Sleep Apnea in Children

  • Learning problems & poor academic performance
  • Behavioral issues & irritability
  • Excessive tiredness & fatigue
  • Difficulty paying attention

Untreated pediatric sleep apnea can cause serious complications for your child, such as poor self-esteem, heart problems, stunted growth and development, and even death.

Treatment Options

There are a number of different treatment options for sleep apnea in children. Medications, such as topical nasal steroids, can help reduce symptoms for children with mild sleep apnea. Oral appliances like mouthpieces and dental devices can help to move your child’s tongue and jaw forward during sleep to keep your child’s upper airway open. Your child may also benefit from positive airway pressure therapy called bilevel positive airway pressure (BPAP) or continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP). During this treatment, a small machine blows air gently through a tube and mask that’s attached to your child’s nose and mouth while they sleep. This machine sends air into the back of your child’s throat to ensure that the airway remains open. If your child’s sleep apnea is a result of their tonsils and adenoids blocking their airway, you may be referred to an ear, nose, and throat doctor to determine if removing the tonsils and adenoids is the right treatment.

Consult with Our Team!

If you have questions about how we can prevent the negative effects of pediatric sleep disorders with a special oral device, contact our team today.


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