When we think about snoring, dads get most of the blame for being the culprits. But males and females, adults and children snore from time to time.
Chronic snoring in children could be a sign of sleep-disordered breathing such as Obstructive Sleep Apnea – a condition in which the upper airway gets blocked repeatedly while sleeping.
This forces the diaphragm and chest muscles to work harder to open the obstructed airway and pull air into the lungs during OSA episodes, and breathing typically begins again with an audible gasp, snort or body jerk. The long-term effects of these episodes can be serious because they interfere with sound sleep. They can reduce oxygen flow to vital organs and cause irregular heart rhythms.
“These health risks are one reason why sleep apnea in children is starting to get talked about more often,” says Dr. Yan Razdolsky. “We must bring more attention to this issue because some studies show that about 80 percent of sleep-disordered breathing cases aren’t reported to family doctors or pediatricians. I fear parents don’t know snoring is worth mentioning to their child’s dentist or orthodontist.”
Dr. Razdolsky says sleep-disordered breathing is another condition that could be diagnosed first by a dentist or orthodontist, since so many signs appear in the oral cavity.
Children at high risk for sleep-disordered breathing such as OSA often exhibit one or more of these characteristics:
- reduced quality of life
- smaller air passageways
- narrow upper arches
- higher palatal vaults
- smaller teeth
- longer faces
Undiagnosed or untreated OSA also can negatively impact your child’s life quality, behavior, mental function, cardiovascular system and lipid regulation. One study found that children with sleep-disordered breathing are more likely to be diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
We recently wrote an article on our blog about treating obstructive sleep apnea with orthodontics. You can learn more about this topic here.