Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is considered one of the most severe sleep-breathing disorders and can occur in adults as well as children.

Sleep apnea is not just for adults

Sleep apnea occurs when the airway becomes partially or completely blocked during sleep, disrupting rest, and leads to a decreased flow of oxygen.

Sleep apnea affects millions of Americans, including a vast quantity of individuals who have not been diagnosed or treated properly for the disorder

Symptoms of childhood sleep apnea

Although snoring is a common symptom of OSA, other symptoms include the following:

  • Long pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Gasping for air while sleeping
  • Restless sleep
  • Frequent arousals during sleep
  • Night sweats
  • Frequent mouth breathing during sleep
  • Daytime fatigue
  • Hyperactive behavior, trouble focusing

The effects of sleep apnea manifest themselves differently in children than adults. While children can display extreme fatigue during the day and a lack of focus, just like adults who battle a sleep breathing disorder, children with sleep apnea typically exhibit symptoms that are similar to Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD).

We’ve found that, in many cases, children with sleep apnea are incorrectly diagnosed with ADHD because of the similarity in symptoms. Several ADHD medications can cause insomnia, which only makes a sleep-breathing disorder worse, creating a cycle of sleeplessness for a child.

Diagnosis and treatment

If your child is showing symptoms of sleep apnea, or has been diagnosed with ADHD but isn’t showing signs of improvement, he or she needs to see a sleep apnea dentist who can perform an airway evaluation and determine if, or how badly, the airway is blocked.

Typically, in children, these blockages occur because of enlarged tonsils or adenoids. In these cases, surgery to remove the enlarged tissue may be recommended. If the child’s airway is blocked due to an improper resting position of the jaw or facial muscles, an oral appliance may help correct these problems. Oral appliance therapy involves fitting your child with a customized mouthpiece to keep the airway open while sleeping and facilitate the flow of oxygen.

Is your child showing signs of a sleep-breathing disorder?

If so, call our Pittsford, NY office today at (585) 248-2575 to schedule an evaluation. Pittsford Smiles Dental proudly provides total oral health care to patients in the areas of Fairport, Pittsford, and Rochester, NY.

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