Are you worried your child isn’t sleeping well? Do you notice they breathe through their mouth? Is their behavior at home or school causing you to wonder if it could be related to their inability to achieve adequate rest? The answer could be that your child is experiencing sleep-disordered breathing (SDB). As board-certified pediatric dentists in McKinney, Dr. Justin and Dr. Sage are here to provide further explanation as to what you should look for and how to know if your child is at risk for SDB.
What is Pediatric Sleep-Disordered Breathing (SDB)?
Pediatric sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) is when a child experiences difficulty sleeping because of their inability to adequately breathe throughout the night. The symptoms vary between children with some only snoring and others experiencing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When OSA is present, your child will be unable to obtain adequate airflow because of a blockage in the airway, ultimately causing them to wake throughout the night gasping for air.
The OSA cycle can occur once or hundreds of times each night. When the soft tissues of the throat collapse and block their airway, breathing is hindered, causing increased heart rate, rising blood pressure, and oxygen levels to drop. The brain then triggers the body to wake suddenly.
How to Know if Your Child is at Risk
Knowing if your child is at risk for SDB is important, as early detection is key in addressing the issue and avoiding disruptive sleeping patterns and behavioral issues in the future. Some of the most common risk factors associated with SDB include:
- Enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils
- Overweight or obesity, especially when fat collects around the neck and throat, restricting and narrowing their airway
- Neuromuscular conditions such as cerebral palsy
- Abnormalities that occur in the lower jaw or tongue
Should you believe your child may be at risk for SDB, it is important that you schedule an appointment with a qualified healthcare professional, such as Dr. Justin or Dr. Sage. Under further examination, it may be recommended that your child undergo a sleep study to determine if they are suffering from OSA. Easy to perform and completely painless, your child will be monitored while they sleep; however, do not be surprised if a diagnosis is formed using the sleep study, clinical evaluation, and your own personal observation at home.
Common Signs That Point to SDB
Although not all children with SDB will experience each of these symptoms, it’s important that you watch for any of the following signs, as they can be clear indicators that a sleep-breathing problem exists:
- Loud snoring: Should this occur nightly, it may lead to sounds of gasping, which indicates a blockage in the airway.
- Bedwetting: Whether your child is waking throughout the night to inform you that they’ve wet the bed, it may be that more frequent incidents are the result of SDB.
- Moodiness: The inability to sleep may cause your child to become more irritable throughout the day and experience chronic fatigue, making it difficult for them to stay awake at school and ultimately hinder their ability to succeed academically.
- Obesity: If your child is overweight or obese, you can expect them to feel more fatigued and avoid physical activity. SDB is known to cause insulin resistance, which can increase their risk of diabetes.
- High blood pressure: If OSA is present, the frequent waking throughout the night can lead to high blood pressure as well as additional cardiovascular and respiratory problems.
- Slower growth pattern: Notice your child isn’t hitting the typical growth spurts? It could be that SDB is the cause, effectively suppressing their growth hormone.
- Inability to focus or concentrate: Much like your child’s irritability, SDB can also make it difficult for them to focus and is known to contribute to many of the most common attention deficit disorders.
- Grinding Teeth (Bruxism) & Mouth-Breathing: Grinding of teeth and mouth-breathing correlate to potential signs of SDB. If inadequate oxygen is supplied to the brain, the brain can trigger the muscles controlling the jaw resulting in grinding in attempt reposition and increase the size of the airway. Mouth-breathing can result as an attempt to increase volume of oxygenated blood to the brain.
Should you notice any of the above-mentioned symptoms, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Justin or Dr. Sage, as they will be able to provide the necessary steps to take to put your child’s health and wellness back on track.
What are Some Available Treatment Options?
Depending on the severity and what is causing your child’s sleep-disordered breathing, it may be necessary for your child to be evaluated by an allergist and Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose, Throat doctor). Sometimes it is necessary to have their tonsils and adenoids removed if they are obstructing the airway. This typically occurs if SDB is more complex or severe, but for children who have milder cases, it may be as simple as releasing a tongue-tie or providing other recommended treatments (i.e. nasal hygiene, breathing techniques, myofunctional therapy).
It is important that you find a qualified dentist for kids in McKinney to begin treatment early on and avoid the potential pitfalls that can hinder your child’s breathing, sleeping patterns, growth, development, and academic success.
About the Authors
Dr. Justin Chan and Dr. Sage Yoo are both fathers who are also board-certified pediatric dentists. Offering first-rate, high-quality dentistry to families in McKinney and its surrounding communities, they use a holistic, whole-body approach to address your child’s dental needs. Committed to providing only the best, most comprehensive services, they will help your child develop a healthy smile as they grow. If you are interested in learning more about our available services or would like to know more about Dr. Justin or Dr. Sage, visit our website or call (469) 301-3212.