Orthodontic Treatment Strategies for Sleep Apnea in Children

Orthodontic Concepts

by Dr. Satish Pai

Snoring during sleep is fairly common among people of all ages, but you shouldn’t just assume it’s normal. Adults who snore heavily or loudly may be suffering from sleep apnea, and the same may be true for a child who snores or has noticeable breathing sounds when they’re asleep.

Snoring is usually the most noticeable indicator of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), which is far from harmless. In addition to disturbing bed partners and family members, sleep apnea can have a wide range of long-term side effects on physical and mental health. These are particularly worrisome when they affect children.

While OSA needs to be diagnosed by a specialist, orthodontists are well-placed to diagnose growth and development problems that increase the risk of sleep apnea. They can also help devise an effective strategy for treatment.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children?

Some common warning signs of childhood sleep apnea include:

What Causes Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children?

There are many possible causes of childhood sleep apnea, including:

Effective Orthodontic Treatment Strategies for Childhood Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a medical condition that requires proper diagnosis by an ENT or sleep specialist. After diagnosis, the treatment for OSA will depend on the severity as well as underlying causes of the condition. In many cases, an orthodontist can help with prevention and treatment.

Here’s how orthodontic strategies can help with childhood OSA:

Orthodontists are well-versed at managing OSA with dental appliances or modifications to the facial structure. As such, they are ideally suited for working as part of multi-disciplinary team for sleep apnea treatment.

What Should An Orthodontist Do?

By asking critical questions while examining patients, orthodontists and other dental health experts can help with the diagnosis of developmental problems that may lead to sleep apnea.

It’s critical to screen every patient for sleep-related breathing problems such as OSA, no matter how young they may be. Ask parents to make note of sleep, snoring and breathing patterns in children before bringing them in for a checkup. Most importantly, ensure that a specialist confirms the diagnosis before you commence any treatment.