My husband and I were watching a movie the other night and heard something seriously weird. We went upstairs to discover my first grader snoring like a drunken pirate. My husband looked at me and said, “The snoring is strong with this one.” He thought it was funny but I’m concerned. I went in to watch her after the movie and it seemed to me like she stopped breathing a couple of times. Can children have sleep apnea?
There are many things which can cause snoring in children. The obvious one is a cold or upper respiratory infection. But, if your child is otherwise healthy, then snoring is a big sign she may have sleep apnea. Even if the snoring is strong with her, it doesn’t necessarily mean she’ll have to look and sound like Darth Vader with a CPAP machine. There are less bulky and scary solutions.
Speak with a dentist about what you’ve noticed in her sleeping. He’ll likely order a sleep study. The breathing issue you saw is common with sleep apnea as well. In fact, it’s possible that she is doing that many times per night. You’ll notice, even when she has a full night’s sleep she’s a little tired throughout the day.
Is Sleep Apnea Hard to Treat?
Many times you can get a doctor’s prescription for your child’s sleep study, which will help offset the cost. A good dentist will start with the easiest treatment options first. Often, a child’s sleep apnea can be solved by a simple orthotic which fits like a custom designed mouth-guard. It doesn’t always have to be worn for long. Plus, as her jaw develops you may find this solves itself.
It wouldn’t hurt to have her looked at by an orthodontist as well to see if her bite development is an issue. The earlier treatment is planned for those type of things, the smoother and less expensive the procedure will cost you, especially if you can limit the phases of treatment.
My hygienist said she thinks I have sleep apnea based on some of the things she saw during my cleaning. I didn’t even know that was a thing, let alone that it was so easy to tell, but what she says seems to match up exactly with what I have going on. First, I wake up every morning and my mouth is totally dry and my throat is sore. I always feel tired, which she says is from my body waking up throughout the night. She also said that I’m starting to get some gum disease on just my front teeth and I’ve got a tiny cavity on one of my lower front teeth near the gum line. She claims that both of these things could be caused by my tissues drying out overnight due to the sleep apnea. I didn’t think to ask while I was in and she didn’t offer any solutions. Are there any ways to fix the dry mouth? Is there a medication I can go on or something that might help?
It certainly sounds like you could be suffering from sleep apnea. The symptoms match up. When you breathe with your mouth open at night, everything dries up and that can contribute to oral health problems. People who have sleep apnea tend to wake themselves up repeatedly throughout the night as well, simply because they can’t breathe properly. Because you might not be making it through full sleep cycles, it can be an awful lot like not sleeping at all.
With all that said, these are symptoms and you now know that the underlying cause is. You can fix the symptoms, but it’s better to treat the cause of them. There’s a good chance your dentist can make you a nighttime appliance to help align your jaw better to keep your airway clear. Call and double check if they do. Most mild to moderate cases can be solved by something this simple. If the appliance doesn’t help, you may want to ask for a referral to a specialist and have a sleep study done, so you can get a CPAP.
While you wait for your appointment, you can try using an over-the-counter remedy like Biotene. You should also be very diligent about brushing before bed, to make sure that you aren’t leaving anything behind that might spur decay.