Sleep Disordered Breathing & Your Child: A Crash Course for Parents

January 04, 2017 Dr. Jill Ombrello

Pediatric Sleep Issues, Sleep Disordered Breathing, Children, Healthy Start

What is Sleep Disordered Breathing?

How many of us had braces or even extractions as children to correct our crooked or crowded mouths? Unfortunately, what we didn’t know then is that those crooked teeth can indicate a much larger underlying problem: an underdeveloped airway.

A shocking 9 in 10 children suffer from the symptoms of Sleep disordered breathing, and many parents simply aren’t told what to look for to recognize the true cause. So what exactly is SDB?

Sleep disordered breathing is simply a lack of oxygen during sleep. When your child’s teeth, jaw, and airway are poorly developed, the airway can often become narrow and constricted so that in his or her most relaxed and vulnerable moments — sleep — they aren’t able to breathe properly. 

It’s not hard to imagine why this can lead to all sorts of problems for your child. A lack of oxygen means that your child isn’t getting the deep, restful sleep they need to learn, grow, and play healthily all day, nor are they getting what they need for optimal brain function and  immune strength.

What are the Symptoms?

One of the greatest dangers of SDB is that the negative effects (lack of oxygen and sleep) are so elemental to our children’s bodies that it produces a huge range of varied and often vague symptoms.

SDB can cause snoring, mouth breathing, dark circles under the eyes, nightmares, and fatigue. But it can also manifest in non-sleep related symptoms, such as persistent allergies (worsened by mouth breathing and an inflamed throat), headaches, and bedwetting. Many children also experience behavioral issues such as ADD/ADHD, anxiety, depression, aggression, and even bad grades in areas like spelling, math, and science.

Each child reacts differently, and all too often these harmful symptoms aren’t recognized for what they are. Misdiagnosis can carry heavy consequences such as the incorrect and unnecessary use of prescription medication, medication that can’t treat the root cause of your child’s distress.

It pays to watch carefully and be vigilant if you child displays any of the symptoms of SDB. When it comes to your child’s health, don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion — especially when Healthy Start evaluations are free!

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 How Do I Know If My Child Has SDB?

When the symptoms are so difficult to recognize, it’s important to watch for the telltale signs of SDB. Even mild cases, often identifiable by crooked or crowded teeth, can see huge benefits with a little help from your dentist.

Watch for clues that your child isn’t sleeping like the proverbial baby. Is he snoring regularly? Does she snort or gasp in her sleep? Does he seem restless or fitful in bed? These are likely signs that your child is struggling to breath. Time to make an appointment with a certified Healthy Start provider or dentist.

What is Healthy Start?

Healthy Start is designed to work alongside the natural movement of your growing child’s body to bring the upper and lower jaws forward, allowing the airway to widen and allow healthy oxygen flow.

The best part? It’s not just a treatment — it’s actually a cure. The system uses a series of soft, comfortable, removable mouthpieces to guide your child’s teeth into proper alignment and gently promote good jaw and airway development. Because your child is young and still growing, this painless process will set as your child grows and, unlike the results of braces, become their permanent adult alignment: a beautiful, straight smile and a healthy, open airway for the rest of their lives without relapse.

I was a Healthy Start kid myself, as were all three of my own kids, so I can attest to the ease and success of the process!

Is Healthy Start Right for My Child?

Choosing any medical intervention for your child is a big decision, and you’re right to take it seriously. Luckily, Healthy Start makes the decision easier because it is completely safe and natural, working with your child’s natural growth instead of against it. Unlike many other symptom based treatments, the process is entirely non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical.

Healthy Start is nearly half the cost of braces, and much, much more comfortable. Early intervention can be the key to your child’s happy and healthy development!

My office, Central Dentist, is proud to be certified as a medical sleep center. We have a board-certified MD on our team, and are in network with five major medical insurance companies to help patients with the financial commitment. If you think there’s any chance your child may benefit from a healthier start, I’d love to meet you!

 

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Written by Dr. Jill Ombrello

Wife & mother to three beautiful, healthy children. Fourth-generation dentist. Patient advocate. Healthy Start educator. Beyonce enthusiast.

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