Snoring and Sleep Apnea Solutions Blog

Weston Dentist on Sleeps Apnea and Children

Weston Dentist on the Risks and Dangers of Sleeps Apnea for Children 

While obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a condition that is most commonly associated with older adults however 1%-5% of children do suffer from it. Since it’s such a rare occurrence among children it is often under diagnosed.  OSA is a condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. While sleep apnea will lead to poor-quality sleep for both adults and children, the daytime symptoms can manifest differently.  Adults are more likely to have chronic daytime fatigue, while kids are more likely to have behavioral issues like hyperactivity. Understanding the signs can help parents decide when to see a doctor about it.

Causes of OSA in Children


  • Obesity in kids like adults can cause OSA by constricting the airway. OSA occurs in 60% of overweight kids
  • Enlarged tonsils can constrict the airway as well, making it harder for kids to breath during sleep
  • Nasal allergies, exposure to cigarette smoke, and a family history of OSA are also risk factors for kids


OSA Symptoms in Kids


  • Night sweats
  • Sleepwalking
  • Sleep terrors
  • Bedwetting
  • Coughing at night


OSA can also cause a number of issues for kids during the day including:


  • Morning headaches
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty with emotional regulation
  • Sleepiness
  • Behavioral problems 
  • Hyperactivity and impulsiveness


Diagnosing Sleep Apnea in Kids

Your child’s pediatrician will ask you and your child about the child’s sleep habits and any symptoms they may have. They may also examine the child’s mouth, neck and throat to look for enlarged tonsils or adenoids. If the pediatrician suspects sleep apnea they may prescribe a sleep study. A sleep study is done overnight at a sleep clinic where the child’s specific body functions will be monitored during sleep. The data from the sleep study will help to make a diagnosis. Home sleep tests are available but they are not generally recommended for kids.

Sleep Apnea Treatment for Children


  • Surgery. If the child’s OSA is caused by enlarged tonsils or adenoids the physician may recommend removing them surgically
  • CPAP machine. A CPAP involves wearing a mask at night that  continuously pumps air into the airway. This can be a difficult adjustment for children
  • Oral appliances. Dr. Pyle can design a custom oral appliance for your child designed to treat OSA that interfere less with their normal sleep habits than a CPAP 
  • Allergies and sinus treatment. Steroid nasal spray, saline or other allergy medications, may help kids with mild OSA
  • Weight loss. If your pediatrician determines that OSA is being exacerbated by excess weight they can suggest a weight loss program 


As a Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM), Dr. Pyle is part of an elite group of dentists who have met the highest educational and experiential standards. He possesses an in-depth level of knowledge in the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea for kids using oral appliance therapy. Patients who could more conveniently visit a Davie, Plantation Dentist or a Fort Lauderdale Dentist often travel the extra distance to see Dr. Pyle because of his experience and dedication to sleep apnea treatment. Make an appointment with us today.

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