20 Sep Could my child have sleep apnea?
While we commonly associated obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) with adults, the truth is that this condition can affect people of all ages, including children. Sleep apnea can be very destructive to one’s oral health and well-being when it goes untreated. If you suspect your child (or any member of your family) has sleep apnea, you will need to have a sleep study performed to determine if periods of apnea are actually occurring during sleep. If a sleep study confirms that a person has sleep apnea, a dental or oral surgeon can help provide effective treatment.
What causes childhood sleep apnea?
A child with OSA might have excessive oral tissue that blocks airways during sleep. He or she may have nasal abnormalities that affect breathing during rest as well. Sometimes, children who are overweight or obese may develop sleep apnea due to bulky throat tissue.
What can be done about OSA?
If a sleep study confirms that a person has obstructive sleep apnea, the first line of treatment is normally conservative in nature. A dentist may utilize oral appliances and CPAP therapy to prevent airway obstruction during sleep. Oral appliances are custom mouth guard-like apparatuses that are worn during rest. They will position the lower jaw forward to expand the airway. These appliances are not uncomfortable and are easily portable.
CPAP therapy involves the use of machinery. This type of treatment will involve utilizing a constant stream of air admitted by the device. The air stream can keep airways clear by pushing back soft and bulky tissue that may collapse into airways when they relax. CPAP therapy can be very effective but sometimes its machinery is noisy and its hoses and masks can be uncomfortable for some people.
If these treatments are not effective or if abnormalities in oral or nasal tissue are the reason for airway obstruction, patients might need oral surgery. This type of treatment involves removing excessive and unnecessary tissue that compromises the airway.
If you have been referred to our practice for sleep apnea treatment, call us today to reserve an appointment at Great River Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.