Why We Talk About Your Child’s Sleep At The Dentist

child sleep apneaKnoxville and Maryville TN

Despite the old saying, “sleeping like a baby,” we now know that children are at risk for the same sleep disorders as adults and sleep-disordered breathing is not just a grown-up thing. Even children at a very young age can suffer from sleep-disordered breathing and if left untreated, could have negative consequences on their health.

Studies performed by researchers at Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that more than 11,000 children with sleep-disordered breathing were more likely to develop emotional or behavioral problems. Also, these children struggled with developing peer relationships as opposed to children that did not exhibit any symptoms of sleep-disordered breathing.

The researchers of this study compiled information from parent questionnaires. Parents were asked to answer various questions about their child’s sleep and breathing patterns, beginning from when their child was six months old until almost seven years old. Questionnaires regarding their child’s emotional and behavioral development were given to the parents when their child was four years old and again at the age of seven. The questionnaire addressed these issues: hyperactivity, anxiety and depression, problems with peers, conduct issues such as aggressiveness and rule-breaking, and positive social behaviors such as sharing and helpfulness.

Researchers concluded that children with sleep-disordered breathing were at higher risk of developing behavior or emotional problems as compared to children who suffered no breathing disorder while sleeping. The study also found these startling facts: that by the age of one year, children with sleep-disordered breathing were 40 to 100 percent more likely to develop behavioral problems. Hyperactivity and behavioral issues increased the most among children with sleep-disordered breathing. Also, over the six-year evaluation period, the study concluded that children with the most persistent sleep-disordered breathing exhibited the most severe behavioral problems of all.

Although this large-scale study provides a strong link between sleep-disordered breathing and behavioral problems among children, scientists have yet to determine why this is the case. The scientists believe a decrease in oxygen, lack of restorative sleep, and changes in body chemistry and cell development as a result of sleep deprivation, likely are what links sleep-disordered breathing and behavioral problems in children.

Treating pediatric sleep apnea in Knoxville

You may think sleep apnea only affects people who are older and overweight, but in reality, this disorder can affect patients of any age—even young children. Although only a sleep specialist can make a complete diagnosis of a sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea, at Crestview Dental Care, we can provide treatment for these disorders. Treatment varies, depending on the severity of the condition. But, if your child exhibits any of the symptoms associated with obstructive sleep apnea, ask us about a sleep apnea screening for kids today!

If your child is showing any of the symptoms above, or a sleep specialist already has diagnosed your child with a sleep breathing disorder, Dr. Spears can help. Call the office of Crestview Dental Care today at (865) 982-1700 if you live in Knoxville and Maryville in Tennessee.