Sleep Apnea In Children

During the night, parents tuck their children into bed with the hope of them sleeping peacefully, but for an estimated one to 10% of children, the reality is far from serene. Sleep apnea, a disorder marked by pauses in breathing during sleep, is widely recognized in adults but can be just as impactful in children — yet many parents and caregivers are unaware of its presence. 

Recognizing and treating sleep apnea in children is crucial, not only for a good night’s rest but also for their overall health and development. Below, let’s explore what every parent should know about sleep apnea, its indications, and what to do with a diagnosis. Contact our Mill Creek, WA office to learn more!

Services provided by Dr. Bill Mulliken

What Causes Sleep Apnea In Children?

In children, sleep apnea is often caused by enlarged tonsils and adenoids, which can block the airway during sleep. Obesity is another significant contributor, leading to increased soft tissue around the neck and throat area. Additionally, certain medical conditions, including Down Syndrome, cerebral palsy, and craniofacial anomalies, can predispose children to sleep apnea. 

Unlike adults, where lifestyle factors play a significant role, in children, these structural and genetic factors often have a major impact.

Signs Of Sleep Apnea In Children

Identifying sleep apnea in children can be challenging as the symptoms often manifest subtly or mimic other behavioral conditions. Here are some red flags to look out for:

  • Hyperactivity and attention issues: Contrary to popular belief, sleep disorders can lead to symptoms resembling ADHD. A child with sleep apnea may exhibit restlessness during the day, rather than the expected fatigue.
  • Poor school performance: Lack of restorative sleep can significantly impair cognitive functions, impacting a child’s learning and academic achievements.
  • Night terrors: Frequent nightmares or night terrors may be a signal that your child’s sleep is disturbed.
  • Bed wetting: While common in some young children, persistent bed wetting can also be a sign of disrupted sleep patterns due to apnea.
  • Snoring and gasping: Pay attention to snoring, breathing pauses, or gasping sounds, as these are telltale signs of sleep apnea.

Consequences Of Untreated Sleep Apnea In Children

Leaving sleep apnea untreated in children can have a multitude of adverse effects. It can hinder growth and immune function, cause behavioral and learning difficulties, and increase the risk of cardiovascular problems. Early intervention is pivotal to prevent these potentially severe outcomes.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea In Children

If you suspect your child may have sleep apnea, a definitive diagnosis is essential. Traditionally, a sleep study (polysomnography) performed in a sleep laboratory is recommended. However, home sleep studies are becoming more prevalent and can be a less intimidating option for children and families. In order to arrange a home sleep study, please visit our office for a consultation. Our team can provide the equipment necessary to perform your child’s sleep study at home.

The Best Treatment For Children With Sleep Apnea

At Mill Creek Family Dentistry, we are committed to providing the best care for young patients. Oral appliance therapy, a non-invasive approach using a custom-fitted device to keep the airway open during sleep, is often an excellent treatment for children. While CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy and surgery are also options, they can be more invasive or daunting for children. 

Our dedicated team will help you navigate these choices and determine the best course of action for your child.

Choose Mill Creek Family Dentistry For Your Child’s Sleep Health

At Mill Creek Family Dentistry, we understand the value of your child’s sleep. We’re dedicated to restoring not just quiet nights but also ensuring vibrant days full of energy and potential. With a compassionate, knowledgeable team equipped to diagnose and treat pediatric sleep apnea, we invite you to partner with us in your child’s journey to uninterrupted sleep and optimal health. Contact us today, and let’s illuminate the path to better rest for your little ones!

Services provided by Dr. Bill Mulliken

Scroll to Top

Request An Appointment