Does your child seem particularly sleepy during the day or wake up several times in the night? Often, the cause of these issues could be related to your child’s airways. In order to help your little one avoid serious complications later in life, including a higher risk of sleep apnea or an ADHD diagnosis, you should have these issues addressed. Fortunately, we can diagnose these common problems and offer comfortable and convenient treatment options for families in Dallas and Richardson, TX. When should you schedule an appointment? What warning signs should you watch for? Find out in today’s blog!

Airway Obstruction and Poor Sleep

When a child’s airways are partially blocked or obstructed during sleep, this can lead to serious problems during waking hours. The obstruction could be the result of complications with the formation of facial, nasal, and oral structures. Tonsils and adenoids could also lead to problems breathing, as well as dental misalignment and tongue-tied difficulties. At night, your little one may not reach the deep, uninterrupted stage of sleep needed to feel rested during the day. Deprived of sleep, your kid could struggle during school, and may even be misdiagnosed as having ADHD or ADD. But how do you know if your little one has obstruction at night? When should you see your dentist for a pediatric evaluation?

Warning Signs

You may notice your kid breathes primarily through the mouth. Known as mouth breathing, this could increase the risk of gingivitis and gum disease, cavities, bad breath, and even sleep apnea. Shallow breathing or sudden cessation of breathing briefly in the night could also occur. Your kid may experience fitful sleeping, moving around a lot, kicking or talking, or getting up early or several times in the night. Nightmares and night terrors could occur as well. Your kid may also experience changes to skin color and pallor, daytime fatigue, moodiness, and trouble concentrating at school. Behavioral issues and tantrums at older ages, when these phases should had passed, could also occur. If your child experiences one or more of these potential symptoms, please bring him or her in for an exam.

Diagnosing Children and Possible Treatment Options

Our exam enables us to identify the causes of your child’s sleep issues and mouth breathing. As part of the exam, we will gather detailed digital x-rays and images taken with an advanced intraoral camera. We can then assess any problems with the oral structures and dental alignment, as well as the child’s smile balance, tonsils and adenoids. We can then create a personalized treatment plan to address these factors and improve your little one’s quality of life.

For some, a nighttime oral appliance may be necessary, which helps ensure open airways and guides the growth of oral structures and tissues. If we prescribe such a device, it will be custom-made for your child’s smile, ensuring a comfortable fit and treatment with accuracy and precision. The device can limit the risk of sleep apnea later in life, and address issues that could otherwise lead to misalignment and problems with speech.

Others may benefit from orthodontic treatment to correct misalignment and improve bite balance, such as braces or possibly clear aligners. A restoration could be necessary, such as a dental crown, which improves bite balance as well. We may discuss changes to your child’s bedtime routine, such as avoiding caffeinated and sugary foods and drinks before bed, maintaining a regular sleep schedule (going to bed  and waking up at the same times every day), and also ensuring the bedroom is dark, cool, and screen-free (computer, TV, tablets and smartphones). Combined with treatment, improved bedtime routines could boost sleep and in turn, improve behavior and concentration during the daytime. We will work with parents to create a treatment plan tailored specifically for their child to help them rest easier, without airway obstruction, mouth breathing, and problems with speech and communication.

Long-Term Complications

Did you know airway obstruction and mouth breathing could mean an increased risk of obstructive sleep apnea as your child grows older? Sleep apnea is linked to strained immune systems and cardiovascular health issues, such as a higher risks of heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, and heart attack in adulthood. The issues with oral structures and passages that lead to poor sleep could also be linked to issues speaking and a greater risk of serious dental misalignment as your little one grows. Misalignment not only impacts the visual aspects of a smile, but is linked to increased rates of tooth decay and gum disease, as well as TMJ disorder and bruxism. Early treatment could reduce the severity of misalignment, and shorten the amount of time your kid could need to wear braces or aligners.

Children may also struggle to gain the most from their studies, receive diagnoses for disorders they may not suffer from, and experience behavioral issues. If you recognize any of the symptoms we’ve discussed in today’s blog, or your child struggles at home and school and seems very tired and fatigued during the day, please let us now. Contact our office to schedule a pediatric evaluation, so we can assess the health of your child’s smile and oral structures, and identify any problems associated with airway obstructions, mouth breathing, poor sleep, or speech impediments. If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact our team today.

Does Your Little One Need an Evaluation?

When children experience poor sleep due to airway issues, this could lead to major complications, such as poor behavior and a less-than-stellar performance at school. Don’t let these issues impact your little one’s quality of life, talk to our team about a possible evaluation and custom treatment option. For more information on evaluating and treating these issues, or to discuss our approach to pediatric dentistry, then please schedule a consultation by calling the Viva Dental Family Dentistry office nearest you at (214) 337-7800 (Dallas) or (972) 437-6000 (Richardson). We’re happy to serve families in the area, and help them enjoy optimal oral health and beautiful smiles.