Sleep Apnea Dental Appliances for Kids
Sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing in kids often presents with ADHD-like symptoms. Airway therapy with orthodontic appliances can help solve this problem in the dental office. The child can suffer from behavioral and learning issues when really they are just not getting a good night’s sleep. Before jumping to conclusions that your child has a mental diagnosis, see if your child has any of the symptoms below. Don’t immediately reach for an Adderral prescription. We should first examine how well our children are breathing and sleeping first.
Additional common findings are poor sleep, clenching and grinding for teeth at night time. Poor nasal breathing and lips that are constantly dry. The child may also snore or have loud breathing during sleep. For a complete list of child sleep apnea signs see below.
Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Kids and Sleep Disordered Breathing
What warning signs should you be looking for in your child? If you spot any of the following signs or symptoms of child sleep apnea or behaviors below, you should contact Dr. Adams for a consultation. Your child may be suffering from sleep disordered breathing and child sleep apnea.
- Family History of Sleep Apnea
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Snoring, Heavy or Noisy
- Night Terrors
- Bed wetting
- Clenching Teeth during Sleep
- Restless sleep
- Hard to wake up in the morning
- Dry mouth at night
- Falling asleep at school or when riding in the car
- Crooked teeth
- Chronic runny or stuffy nose
- Chronic ear infections
- Hyperactive behavior
Dr Adams’ favorite airway orthodontic appliances are the Schwarz appliance, ALF appliance, Crozat appliances. And for older kids, the DNA appliance. The holistic airway appliances can prevent and correct sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing in kids. Two other considerable treatments are Myobrace and Healthy Start. The main goal in kids is to promote better growth and function of the upper airway. With proper treatment, dental appliances and proper therapy can cure sleep apnea in kids.
Steps to Airway Orthodontic Treatment
Airway Orthodontics can greatly improve your child’s life and long-term health prognosis. Conventional orthodontic wisdom has recommended that a child first have an orthodontic evaluation at age 7, but not treat until age 12. That is too late. 90% of facial growth is done by age 11-13. A child should be seen at 1-2 years of age, then again at 4-5 and as necessary thereafter. Some children may need no treatment at all and others may need multiple phases of treatment including:
- tongue tie release and therapy
- baby teeth expanders
- adult teeth expanders
- straightening and finishing with braces or Invisalign
Poor Sleep in Kids Causes Irreversible Health Damage
Research is showing that the neurological and physical effects of mouth-breathing and sleep disordered breathing in children are not always reversible. At Maryland Holistic Dentistry, Dr. Adams wants to see kids when the first tooth breaks through the gum tissue and no later than age 1 or 2. Even earlier if they are having feeding issues as that can lead to poor oral muscle function and facial growth. This way, we can monitor your child closely and correct poor habits early and help direct good facial growth that contributes to healthy airways, better breathing and a healthier and more successful life. We are finding that with early treatment (sometimes as early as age 3) and with motivated parents and patients that very few “braces” are needed after all the adult teeth arrive.
ADHD and Behavior in Kids is Related to Sleep
The Way Your Child Breathes Can Determine How They learn, behave and perform intellectually and physically. We all know how much children need sleep. Children, like adults, need to breathe well while asleep for their sleep to be restorative. Even more importantly, kids need the deep restorative sleep that promotes optimal brain development. When the brain feels like the next breath may never come, it turns on all the body’s survival instincts, like an increased heart rate, pressure and release of adrenaline, also known as the “flight or fight” response. This causes the body’s immune responses to run wild and creates inflammation throughout the whole body. For children, this chronic state of alarm on the body and brain- along with lack of oxygen and occurrence of sleep fragmentation – can lead to symptoms of ADHD, learning disabilities, anxiety, depression, lack of social coping skills and peer related problems. They are often suffering from sleep deprivation.