Children require quality sleep for optimal growth and development. A normal sleep cycle includes rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and non-REM sleep. The human body and brain require all of these stages to achieve and maintain optimal health, growth and development. In the United States, many young children are suffering the breathing disorder while they are sleeping. When the airway is impeded, the brain cannot achieve REM and/or non-REM sleep. The body is spending more time of the night focused on getting oxygen, which prevents it from reaching the deep, restorative phases of sleep.
 

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Unhealthy sleep patterns have a whole body effect on children that can influence performance in all aspects of education and development; thus negatively impacting health well into adulthood. Studies showed, when children do not get the quantity and quality of sleep they need, there are many behavioral symptoms manifesting; these include hyperactivity, behavior challenges, bedwetting, trouble focusing, learning disorders and impaired growth.

Airway function disorder, sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) and obstructive sleep disorders (OSDs) are characterized by conditions that limit airway function at multiple levels. Clinical symptoms range from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), upper airway resistance syndrome to primary snoring. Nasal breathing and tongue position are very important for proper jaw formation. If a child does not have a breathing problem, he/she is breathing through his/her nose.

As the tongue rests on the palate in a closed-mouth position, it acts as scaffolding for the formation of the maxilla. However, in a child who has breathing problems, he/she tends to breathe through his/her mouth. During mouth breathing, the tongue tends to rest on the floor of the mouth rather than on the palate; consequently, the palate often forms a higher vault and a narrower arch form. As the result, it can produce various malocclusion problems such as anterior open bites, crowding of teeth, posterior crossbite, etc.

Seven Common Signs of Sleep-Disordered Breathing in Children:

  1. High and/or narrow palatal vault
  2. Mouth breathing
  3. Clenching and grinding or tooth wear
  4. Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  5. Allergic rhinitis or prevalence of allergy symptoms
  6. Short lingual frenulum; tongue tie or lip tie
  7. Maxillary and Mandibular deficiency

If parents/caregivers suspect your children have poor sleep quality or SDB, please spend 20 minutes watching them sleep and look for the following:

  • Does the child snore, or make any noise while sleeping?
  • Does your child stop breathing for short periods during sleep?
  • How rested is the child upon waking up?
  • Has the child experienced behavior issues at home or school?

Please bring your children to the health care providers for evaluation of their airway patency. By screening for sleep-related breathing disorders, oral health professionals can early intervene the detrimental effects of sleep disruption or poor sleep quality, and help a child developing and growing optimally.


Precious Smile Dental & Orthodontics proudly treats patients suffering from sleep-related breathing disorders in Grand Prairie, Irving, Dallas, Arlington, Fort Worth and surrounding areas. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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