Sleep Apnea In Children

Chicago & Glenview Pediatric Dentistry

Little girl sleeping with a teddy bearIf your child snores, shows signs of restless sleep, or has been diagnosed with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), they may be suffering from sleep apnea. The idea that sleep apnea only affects adults is a misconception. Currently, about 1 to 4% of children between the ages 2 and 8 suffer from sleep apnea. At Yummy Dental & Orthodontics for Kids, we strive to be your premier choice in pediatric dentistry in the Glenview and Chicago, IL area. We offer a variety of treatment options that best suit your child’s needs for a beautiful and healthy smile. If your child is suffering is sleep apnea and it is left untreated, it can cause problems for their oral health as he or she grows older.


What Is Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is characterized by recurrent episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep. This occurs when the airway becomes blocked by soft tissues near the back of the throat, such as the tonsils or the tongue, that will partially close off the windpipe. These tissues then vibrate as air passes by, which causes snoring. It's often worse for people who sleep on their back since this encourages the lower jaw to slip back, which in turn pushes the tongue in front of the airway.

You can consult with our children’s dentist, Dr. Grace Yum, to see how you can better observe your child’s sleeping habits to catch any signs of sleep apnea. Some commons signs that your child may have a sleep-related breath disorder are:

  • Snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Constant tossing and turning
  • Night panics
  • Bed-wetting

Treating Sleep Apnea in Children

Various treatments are available for sleep apnea and can be very effective, depending on the cause. If your child's sleep apnea is caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, it can be removed through surgery. Another solution is Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. This involves the use of a machine that delivers mild air pressure through a mask that is worn while your child sleeps to keep the airway open.

Dentistry can also play an effective role in treatment. Depending on your child's age, our experienced doctors can:

  • For Younger Children:  For children under the age of 13, the use of an orthodontic appliance called a palatal expander is a helpful and non-invasive treatment option. A palatal expander gently widens the roof of the mouth (palate) over time by separating bones that don't permanently fuse together until puberty. It's most often used to create more room for crowded teeth, but can also be used to increase airflow.
  • For Older Children: An Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT) involves wearing a custom-made oral appliance designed to reposition the jaw during sleep so that the tongue is held away from the back of the throat, reducing the potential for obstruction.

Visit Our Glenview and Chicago Pediatric Dentistry Today!

The first step to treating your child’s sleep apnea is determining the cause, and as your local Glenview and Chicago, IL children's dentistry we are here to help! If you have any remaining questions or concerns about sleep apnea in children or would like to schedule an appointment, feel free to contact our pediatric dentistry today. We look forward to providing you and your child with the help you need!