Apnea means the “cessation of breathing” and it is becoming more and more common in both children and adults. At Adventure Orthodontics we strive to improve our patient’s airway regardless of age.
The prevalence of sleep apnea in children is as much as 1 in 20! And many more children suffer from Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB). Sleep disordered breathing (insufficient ventilation during sleep) is a broad category that includes snoring, mouth breathing or any decreased breathing capacity leading to disrupted sleeping patterns.
Some of the more common associated symptoms of sleep apnea include:
- Snoring (snoring is not normal in children)
- Extreme drowsiness throughout the day
- Mouth breathing at rest
Current studies show that the lack of oxygen in apnea or SDB has a dramatic effect on the developing brain. Some researchers have demonstrated, through MRI technology, that children with apnea have visibly altered brains when compared to children that sleep well. Many studies are beginning to correlate sleep disordered breathing in children with behavior disorders, lower school performance and poor cognitive development. Furthermore, studies are showing that children who are treated for sleep disordered breathing show significant improvement in these areas.
This lack of oxygen can be due to a number of reasons. The more common cause is obstruction of the airway. This can be from inadequate space for the tongue, jaw position, jaw dimension or enlarged oral tissues (adenoids and tonsils).
So how does the orthodontist help? Treatment varies with the age of the patient and the type of airway problem they suffer from. If jaw dimensions are the culprit, an orthodontist can change those in young patients. This fact is one of the many reasons we prefer to see children before the age of 7.
The first step is to schedule a consultation with our office. Dr. McCord and Dr. McCoy will sit down with you and review their findings and help you determine whether treatment is indicated.