Sleep disordered breathing

Does your child breathe through his mouth while he sleeps? Snore? Hve pauses in breathing? If you answered yes to any of these questions, your child may be suffering from sleep-disordered breathing.

Not only is sleep-disordered breathing disruptive to their rest it can result in other health problems. Some of the risk factors that may contribute to sleep disorder are jaw position, facial proportions and tonsil size. Children with sleep disorders may present with frequent or loud snoring and mouth breathing during sleep. 

Several craniofacial features are associated with elevated risk for sleep-disordered breathing such as:  Children with enlarged tonsils.  Children with cross bite, a dental condition where teeth are out of alignment with the corresponding teeth above or below.  And children with convex facial profiles including prominent forehead and brow line with receding chin.

Research has shown that features of the head, neck and throat, as well as certain dental conditions are the significant factors for children’s sleep-disordered breathing more than excess body fat, as was thought in the past.

Children with sleep-disordered breathing are also at a greater risk of behavioral problems, emotional problems and cognitive development. These risks include but are not limited to hyperactivity, ADD/ADHD, bed wetting, anxiety, social issues, conduct problems and aggressiveness. Cognitive development difficulties can be present with even mild forms of sleep-disordered breathing.

Recent studies have found that up to 25% of children are mouth breathing during sleep by the age of six. To avoid the behavioral, cognitive and emotional problems associated with sleep-disordered breathing, we need to get better at identifying the problem. Early intervention and cooperation between doctors and dentists is the most effective treatment strategy, but the process starts with the parents. Paying attention to any signs of irregular breathing is the first critical step.

For more information call 609-465-4143.

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