If your child has any difficulties with mouth breathing or chronic snoring, it may be a sign of a deeper breathing issue, such as sleep apnea. Sleep apnea affects millions of people around the world—many of them undiagnosed.
What Is Sleep Apnea?
Sleep apnea is a condition where the airways near the back of the throat can actually close while sleeping. This narrows the airflow or may even blocks it completely. Chronic snoring is the result of nearly-closed airways.
Our brains have a natural response to this: we wake up so that we can restart breathing. The moments of wakefulness are usually so brief that the sleeper has no idea they ever happened. This can lead to the mistaken impression by the sleeper that they got a full night’s rest.
However, the constant wakefulness will dramatically disturb sleep from a few times a night to as many as hundreds of interruptions. Not only does this keep our bodies from getting the rest they need, but it can lead to tension and stress as well as low oxygen levels, both of which increase the risk of much more severe health issues down the line.
Sleep Apnea in Children
These apnea side effects are damaging to any adult. Sleep apnea has been linked to higher risk of cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, and depression.
While these risks are very serious, they can have an even more profound effect on children. During the younger years, plenty of rest and good oxygen flow is absolutely vital to growth and development of both the body and the brain.
Children who are not getting adequate sleep or oxygen may suffer developmentally in a number of ways. However, the good news is that Boulder County Smiles can help!
Misaligned Jaw Treatment
One of the most common causes of sleep apnea is jaw misalignment. The way the jaw sits while sleeping can pinch the airways shut. This is what causes mouth breathing or snoring.
A temporary solution is to wear a night guard that keeps the jaw in place, and therefore allows the airways to sit naturally. However, when children’s teeth and jaws are still developing, they are especially flexible and receptive to treatment.
Orthodontic treatment at a young age can not only adjust the jaw alignment to help prevent airway problems, but it will allow the permanent teeth to come in straighter and healthier.
In fact, general orthodontics are extremely effective when employed at these young ages. As with many aspects of life, dental prevention is usually much more effective than fixing problems later. Many difficult misalignments, malocclusions, and tooth crowding issues can be stopped before they start through orthodontia.
Talk to Us About Jaw Correction
If your child struggles with mouth breathing or suffers from chronic heavy snoring, it may be that they have a breathing disorder, such as sleep apnea. If your child suffers from breathing disorders, the long-term health effects can be quite serious. Talk to us today to get started with a diagnosis and treatment plan.