Sleep Apnea & Behavior Problems in Children

Sleep Apnea & Behavior Problems in Children

Boy Sleeping.

The number of children diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) has been steadily increasing over the past decade. Yet according to a recent study, many children diagnosed with this condition don't really have it; their behavioral problems are actually related to sleep-related breathing disorders (SRBD), such as sleep apnea.

The 2012 study, published in the journal Pediatrics, followed more than 11,000 children for six years, starting when they were 6 months old. The children who had SRBD were 40 percent to 100 percent more likely than kids without breathing issues to develop behavioral problems resembling ADHD by the age of 7. So if your child is exhibiting ADHD-like symptoms — or has even been diagnosed with ADHD — it's worth considering whether interrupted sleep might be an issue.

It makes perfect sense when you think about it: A well-rested individual, young or old, can function a lot better on a good night's sleep. Yet a lack of sleep affects adults and children differently. While sleepy adults tend to act sluggish and drowsy, sleep-deprived kids are more likely to become hyperactive, uncooperative and unable to focus — just like kids with ADHD.

So what exactly is SRBD?

The condition is characterized by recurrent episodes of interrupted breathing during sleep. The child's airway becomes blocked by soft tissues near the back of the throat — tonsils or the tongue, for example — that partially close off the windpipe. These tissues can vibrate as air passes by, causing snoring. It's often worse while sleeping on one's back because this encourages the lower jaw to slip back, which in turn pushes the tongue in front of the airway.

Overweight children have a higher incidence of sleep apnea due to fatty tissue deposits in the soft palate, which decrease the size of the child's airway.

Does your child have a sleep-related breathing disorder? You can gather clues to report to your health professional by observing your child sleeping. Look for the following signs:

  • Snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Chronic mouth breathing
  • Constant tossing and turning
  • Night panics
  • Bed-wetting

How is sleep apnea treated in children?

There are various treatments that can be very effective, depending on the cause. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids can be surgically removed. A therapy known as Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) involves the use of a machine that delivers mild air pressure through a mask worn during sleep to keep the airway open.

How palatal expanders work.

Dentistry also can also play a role in treatment. For younger children who are still growing, the use of an orthodontic appliance called a palatal expander has proven helpful in some cases. A palatal expander gently widens the roof of the mouth (palate) over time by separating bones that don't permanently fuse together until puberty. It's most often used to create more room for crowded teeth, but the expansion can also increase airflow.

Older children who have stopped growing can sometimes benefit from Oral Appliance Therapy (OAT). This involves wearing a custom-made oral appliance designed to reposition the jaw during sleep so that the tongue is held away from the back of the throat, reducing the potential for obstruction.

The first step is to figure out what's keeping your child from getting the restful sleep that's so crucial to good health and well-being. For that to occur, and for your child to receive the best treatment, you will need to see a trained professional.

Related Articles

Snoring and Sleep Apnea - Dear Doctor Magazine

Sleep Disorders & Dentistry If my partner snores loudly, should I be concerned and what can be done to alleviate the problem? Why does my sleeping partner have lapses in breathing while sleeping and is it dangerous? Why do I wake up exhausted even though I get up to 10 hours of sleep at night? The answers to these and other questions — and how dentistry can help — are all revealed within... Read Article

Contact Us

Lenexa Dentist - Lenexa Dental Office

This page provides you with practical information about our practice. It includes descriptions of our office location, including a map and directions, hours, appointment scheduling, insurance acceptance and billing policies.

Lenexa Family Dental
15220 W 87th St Pkwy
Lenexa, KS 66219
Tel: (913) 888-0005

Office Hours
Monday: 08:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 05:30 PM
Tuesday: 07:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 04:30 PM
Wednesday: 08:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 05:30 PM
Thursday: 07:00 AM - 1:00 PM
02:30 PM - 04:30 PM
Friday:Every other Friday - 09:00 AM - 1:00 PM
Saturday: Closed
Sunday: Closed

Appointments
We know you have many choices when choosing a Dentist in Lenexa, KS so we have made requesting an appointment a simple process via our Web site. If, for any reason you cannot keep a scheduled appointment, or will be delayed, please call us as soon as possible.

Insurance and Billing
We accept most traditional insurance plans, contact our office to verify acceptance of your plan. Lenexa Family Dental does not participate in Health Management Organizations; however, we will be happy to file your insurance claims for you. We accept checks, cash or credit cards. We also offer a flexible payment plan. Please see our Financial Coordinator for details. We are happy to file insurance for your reimbursement as long as you are free to choose your own dentist.

Payment Options
We accept check, cash, credit cards and Care Credit (Please see below for Care Credit).

Financing Options
Carecredit CareCredit is here to help you pay for treatments and procedures your insurance doesn’t cover. We offer No Interest* financing or low minimum monthly payment options so you can get what you want when you want it. You can even use CareCredit for your family and favorite pet.

With three simple steps, including an instant approval process, it’s easy to apply for CareCredit. After you’re approved, you’re free to use CareCredit for the services you choose including LASIK, veterinary, dentistry, cosmetic, hearing aids and more.

CareCredit is endorsed by some of the most credible organizations specific to each healthcare profession we support. And CareCredit is a GE Money Company, so you know you can count on us. For over 20 years, we’ve been helping over five million cardholders get the healthcare treatments they want and need. Now you don’t have to worry about saving up for the procedures you want and need. With CareCredit, the decision’s in your hands to get what you want, when you want it.

For more information or to apply online, visit carecredit.com, or feel free to contact our office and our financial coordinator would be more than happy to assist you and answer any questions you may have.