Sleep Apnea in Children: This Might Be Why Your Child Is Always Tired

sleep apnea in children

Does your child seem to wake up tired each morning? Have they been having difficulty concentrating at school?

If so, you may wonder whether your child has ADHD. Many children receive an ADHD diagnosis, so it wouldn’t be too farfetched to assume that yours might have it, too.

It’s always good to remember, though, that symptoms of one condition can mimic another. This is something that doctors have recently discovered with sleep apnea in children.

The symptoms a child presents with may point to a condition like ADHD when, in fact, the issue is with their sleep.

Since sleep apnea is such a serious condition, it’s vital to have our children evaluated for it.
If your child receives a sleep apnea diagnosis, what are your options?

Today, we’re going to consider why you might need to take your child to a West Kelowna dentist for treatment of sleep apnea.

How Dental Issues Can Play a Role in Sleep Apnea: Kelowna dentist explains

A lot of patients look at me inquisitively when I ask about their sleep habits. They understand why their general physician might ask this. But why would a West Kelowna dentist want to know this?

The answer is that our dental health and anatomy can have an impact on our general health. More studies come out each year proving this point. High blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes all have a dental correlation. And now we know it affects our sleep as well.

One of the reasons people have disordered breathing is because of airway obstruction. Oftentimes, a relaxed jaw causes soft tissue obstruction. Sometimes, though, a misaligned bite can cause the jaw to position itself at an odd angle. This shift of position can, in turn, obstruct the airway while sleeping.

In addition to causing disordered breathing, a misaligned bite can cause TMJ Disorder. The misalignment puts a strain on the muscles, bones, and joints of the head. The result is pain, headaches, and worn teeth.

If I notice that a patient has these symptoms, my first reaction is to ask about their sleep habits. I also check for enlarged tonsils and crowded teeth. Enlarged tonsils or adenoids or long term nasal congestion reduces the overall airway.

Allergy management and removal of enlarged tonsils and adenoids is key to reducing obstruction and in turn reducing jaw/bite misalignment due to mouth breathing. These can also contribute to sleep apnea.

When I suspect this disorder, I recommend patients go in for a sleep study.

Does Your Child Have Sleep Apnea? Some Symptoms to Watch For

You may have noticed that more children than ever before receive ADHD diagnoses. Many children (and adults) do, in fact, have this condition. However, a lot of children receive the wrong diagnosis. They don’t have ADHD – they have sleep apnea.

I’m not trying to blame doctors by any means. I just feel it’s necessary to point out that misdiagnoses are common. And often, it’s because sleep apnea in children mimics the symptoms of other disorders.

If your child exhibits any of the following symptoms, I recommend they see a sleep apnea treatment provider.

  • Always tired – they wake up tired and may fall asleep in class no matter how much sleep they had the night before.
  • Difficulty focusing – For one thing, they’re exhausted. Everyone has a hard time focusing when they’re tired. And because their brain doesn’t get as much oxygen as needed at night, focusing becomes a major chore.
  • Problems listening, excessive talking, and a tendency to interrupt others
  • Forgetfulness and disorganization
  • Excessive sweating while sleeping
  • Agitation or aggression
  • Inability to sit still
  • Loud snoring
  • Headaches

A Sleep Apnea Treatment Provide Can Give You Peace of Mind

A great diagram explaining obstructive sleep apnea

A great diagram about Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious condition. It can exacerbate certain health conditions, while contributing to others. Like all parents, you want your child to have a happy, healthy childhood. One of the best ways you can do this is by taking them to a sleep apnea treatment provider.

Unfortunately, a 2014 study has shown that there is a marked lack of both services and resources when it comes to pediatric care. This is particularly true of pediatric SDB care, or sleep-disordered breathing care.

And that is why dentists are stepping up to the plate with sleep disorder care options.

If you think your child has sleep apnea, you’ll find a number of options in my West Kelowna dentist office. I have devices that help reduce snoring, CPAP machine alternatives, and for children ideal treatment is neuromuscular/physiologic orthodontics and orthopedics which I provide. However this type of orthodontic treatment is also suitable for adults as well since it adressess both airway and TMD/TMJ problems.

As you sleep apnea treatment provider, I can help you find a treatment option that will reduce your child’s symptoms and keep them happy, healthy, and focused.

Are you concerned that your child might have sleep apnea? If so, please call my West Kelowna dentist right away. We’ll schedule an examination to evaluate all of your child’s sleep and dental needs.


Dr. Shauna Palmer – dentist Kelowna providing sleep apnea services