What is Sleep Disordered Breathing?
As parents we want to give our children the best opportunities to succeed in life. What if something as simple as breathing could be interfering with your child’s success? Sleep Disordered Breathing (SDB) is an all–inclusive term for breathing difficulties, ranging from mild snoring to a severe obstruction during sleep (sleep apnea). When your child’s breathing is disrupted, his or her body recognizes the disruption much like choking, therefore, slowing the heart rate, raising the blood pressure, arousing the brain, ultimately disrupting sleep. This prevents proper brain function for the next day and often leads to several medical complications.
Signs & Symptoms
Unfortunately, 9 out of 10 children suffer from one or more symptoms of sleep apnea. Symptoms like ADHD/ADD, bed-wetting, night terrors, poor school performance, snoring and mouth breathing are just some of the outer signs of the underlying root cause. These symptoms do not self-correct. In fact, 92.6% of children will continue to exhibit these symptoms throughout their life and 30% will worsen with age.
(JAOS, Brooke Stevens and Dr. Earl Bergersen)
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s wrong with mouth breathing?
Many children breathe through their mouth during the day and at night. One of the functions of the nose is to warm, moisturize and filter the air before it gets to our lungs. Mouth breathing doesn’t do this and the air is more likely to enlarge the tonsils and irritate your lungs. Some people constantly breathe through the mouth because of chronic nasal congestion, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, abnormal size of the jaws or an anatomical abnormality in the nose. While asleep with your mouth open, the lower jaw has a tendency to fall back and constrict the airway. This causes less oxygen to be delivered to the brain, the muscles and all the cells of the body; therefore, the body functions less than optimally.
Breathing through the mouth can also dry the oral cavity, lead to bad breath, cause crooked teeth, tooth decay, gum disease, poor growth and/or facial deformities. Children who breathe through the mouth at night may snore and have a restless sleep. They often wake up tired, irritable and have dark circles under the eyes. When a child is not able to breathe well while sleeping it can affect the brain and body’s growth and development.
Is snoring normal?
Snoring is common, it may be cute but it’s NOT normal! The noises produced by snoring are caused by a blockage in the flow of air that reaches the body when breathing. This could be caused by poor tongue posture and the shape of the nose or the jaw. When the body doesn’t take enough oxygen, the brain sends a signal to the body to wake up to get oxygen. The most common symptoms children with compromised airway face are: difficulty listening, chronic allergies, fidgeting, restless sleep, teeth grinding, ADHD, and bedwetting.
Why is my child still wetting the bed?
Bed-wetting is a common symptom of Sleep Disordered Breathing and in fact, almost 1 in 5 children, grade school age, quietly suffer from bed-wetting. When the brain has a lack of oxygen it can cause a slack in the control of bodily functions. This creates anxiety, guilty feelings and can disrupt family life.
Could there be other reasons for my child to exhibit ADHD/ADD and Other Behavioral problems?
Did you know that, according to research, Sleep Disordered Breathing increases the risk of being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD by at least 50%? Unfortunately, many of these children are misdiagnosed and put on medication. Before heading down the medication path, every parent owes it to their child to have their airway assessed. Children who can’t sleep properly are often tired, irritable and may exhibit aggressive behavior.
Can some learning difficulties be a result of lack of good sleep?
REM-sleep is especially important during early childhood development. Lack of REM sleep has been shown to impair the ability to learn complex tasks. During this time, signals are sent to the brain’s cerebral cortex which is responsible for learning, thinking and organizing information. Snoring and mouth breathing are signs that a child is struggling to breathe, typically due to an obstructed airway. Lack of oxygen to the brain keeps the body from experiencing REM-sleep. Children without proper REM-sleep may have trouble in academic subjects like math, science, reading and spelling.
What is the Solution?
We now have the ability to identify these issues and provide a solution for sleep apnea. After a thorough review of the medical history and a dental examination, if the root cause of these problems is of dental nature, an appliance therapy may be indicated to properly position the upper and lower jaw relative to each other and to the bones of the face. A great alternative to straightening teeth without braces, HealthyStart® is a comprehensive, conservative, non-pharmaceutical, and non-invasive treatment that uses a child’s own ability to guide their growth and development while helping them get the quality night sleep that they deserve. It promotes an open airway, proper growth of the jawbones, better tongue position, proper nasal breathing and eliminates bad oral habits. Just as nature intended! Appliances can be used in children as young as two. It also helps older children with sleep issues even if growth and development has already occurred. Most patients report a significant decrease in SDB symptoms when consistently wearing the appliance.
How do you know if your child gets quality sleep each night?
Please take a moment to fill out the Sleep Breathing Assessment so you can begin to evaluate the quality of your child’s sleep. Mouth breathing, tossing and turning, bed wetting, teeth grinding, bad dreams, and sleep walking are just some of the signs of sleep disordered breathing that can affect a child’s sleep and even have an effect on the whole family.
Dr. Maribel Santos-Cordero has been expertly trained to identify the root causes of SDB and is certified in the HealthyStart® appliance system. If you suspect your child is suffering from Sleep Disordered Breathing, don’t wait any longer. Take the Sleep Breathing Assessment and call our office NOW for a SDB consultation!