February is National Children’s Dental Health Month (NCDHM) in the United States when dental professionals, healthcare providers and others across the country work to promote good oral health in kids. Developing good habits at an early age and scheduling regular dental checkups helps children get a good start on a lifetime of healthy teeth, gums and food habits.
While good oral hygiene and a healthy diet can affect children’s oral health, sleeping habits can also affect the oral health in children. For example, a child with poor sleeping habits can develop bad oral habits like thumb-sucking, which is a habit that can cause crooked teeth. Poor quality sleep in children can also lead to stress eating; wherein kids eat unhealthy and sugary foods and snacks as a way to cope with feeling tired and irritable.
Many people don’t realize that many children who don’t get good quality sleep consistently may be suffering from sleep apnea – a common, treatable condition. This blog post is being made in observance of National Children’s Dental Health Month as sleep apnea is often times also a dental problem.
What is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition that affects many people. Obstructive sleep apnea is typically caused by the lower jaw falling backward during sleep and the tongue falling with it. The tongue then blocks the airway wherein breathing normally becomes difficult while the body struggles for oxygen. This is why many people with sleep apnea make noises in their sleep.
Children who snore, gasp for air or make choking sounds in their sleep are likely to have some form of obstructive sleep apnea.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children
Some of the symptoms that may indicate a child has obstructive sleep apnea include:
- Snoring, gasping and choking during sleep
- Strange sleeping positions and much tossing & turning in bed
- Bed wetting
- Night sweats
- Daytime sleepiness and fatigue
- Delayed cognitive development
- Lack of concentration and motivation
- Emotional instability
It is estimated that 1 to 4 percent of children suffer from sleep apnea and that many of them are between the ages of 2 and 8. Obstructive sleep apnea can result in a child missing out on healthy, restful sleep. If left untreated, this condition can lead to learning, behavioral, growth and heart problems. In rare cases, it can also be a life-threatening condition. Experts recommend that parents whose children are having sleep problems or sudden difficulties at school visit a sleep specialist for evaluation and testing to either rule out or confirm a sleep apnea diagnosis.
Spark Sleep Solutions specializes exclusively in sleep apnea and snoring. Our sleep apnea dentists are experts in screening and guiding therapy for snoring and obstructive sleep apnea in using the very latest technologies and methods.
If you suspect that your child has sleep apnea, we encourage you to contact us to schedule an appointment. We will provide your child with an examination of the teeth, surrounding tissues, and airway. If we feel your child may have sleep apnea, we will guide through the proper channels to be tested and treated so it can be managed.