What should parents look for?

The next time your child falls asleep, check to see if they are breathing through their nose or through their mouth. Mouth breathing with snoring or grinding, may be indicators of sleep apnea.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a condition in which a person’s breathing repeatedly stops during sleep. It is more commonly seen in adults, but children may suffer from it as well.

It may be caused by an obstruction in the airway, such as enlarged adenoids and tonsils, or the size of the airway, muscle tone or nasal congestion.

What can happen with sleep apnea?

A child who breathes through their mouth usually does not sleep well. This tiredness can affect energy levels, school performance, and can cause behavior and attention problems that may be misdiagnosed as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). If sleep apnea goes untreated, dental health issues such as a long face, gummy smile, gingivitis, narrow palate and misaligned teeth may result as well.

How is it treated?

Dr. Mann is trained to assess your child’s airway and will work with an ear-nose-throat (ENT), pediatric sleep specialist or orthodontist for corrective treatment. An overnight sleep study and/or an x-ray of the child’s head and neck to see whether the airway is too narrow or blocked, can help to further diagnose. If an airway obstruction is present, removing tonsils or other airway obstructions can help. Weight management, medicines to relieve nasal congestion, special appliances to expand the arches and positional therapy, may be helpful to open your child’s airway for proper rest, growth and development.