How Airway Dentistry Can Help Children with Sleep Apnea

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How Airway Dentistry Can Help Children with Sleep Apnea
How Airway Dentistry Can Help Children with Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a prevalent sleep disorder that affects people of all ages, including children. While many people associate sleep apnea with only adults, it is crucial to recognize its impact on children’s health and well-being as well. Airway dentistry has emerged as an effective approach to addressing sleep apnea in children.

At ManiDental Family Practice, we provide airway dentistry in Elkin, NC to help you manage and treat sleep obstructive sleep apnea. Our airway and cosmetic dentist in Elkin, Dr. Nicole Manigault, DDS, is experienced in airway dentistry and can help you and your family sleep and breathe better. 

Let’s dive into what airway dentistry is and how it can play a vital role in helping children with sleep apnea, providing them with better sleep, improved health, and a brighter future.

What Is Airway Dentistry?

Airway dentistry, also known as dental sleep medicine or sleep dentistry, is a specialized field within dentistry that focuses on the connections between the oral cavity and the respiratory system. It aims to diagnose and treat airway disorders that may affect a person’s breathing and overall health. The main goal of airway dentistry is to help patients breathe properly during sleep, vital for their overall well-being. 

Airway dentists are trained to take airway screenings and address issues such as sleep apnea, snoring, and other breathing-related sleep disorders. By utilizing various oral appliances and techniques, airway dentists work in collaboration with other healthcare professionals, such as sleep physicians and orthodontists, to provide comprehensive treatment options. 

We offer airway dentistry in Elkin to improve the sleep quality and general health of patients of all ages and including children, and we offer innovative solutions to improve sleep-related breathing disorders and enhance our patient’s overall quality of life.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is a common but potentially serious sleep disorder that affects millions of people worldwide. It is characterized by repeated episodes of partial or complete blockage of the upper airway during sleep, leading to pauses in breathing and disrupted sleep patterns. In OSA, the muscles in the back of the throat fail to keep the airway open, collapsing and causing momentary oxygen deprivation. 

Consequently, sufferers experience loud snoring, gasping for air, and awakening frequently throughout the night. Risk factors contributing to obstructive sleep apnea include obesity, advanced age, a family history of sleep apnea, smoking, physical inactivity, and certain anatomical predispositions such as enlarged tonsils or a small jaw.

If left untreated, OSA can have serious health consequences, including hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, impaired cognitive function, and excessive daytime sleepiness. Knowing what obstructive sleep apnea is, proper diagnosis using airway screenings and treatment, such as lifestyle modifications or surgical intervention, is crucial to managing obstructive sleep apnea and mitigating its associated risks.

Having known what obstructive sleep apnea is, let’s check out how airway dentistry connects with sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea and Dentistry: How Do They Fit Together?

Sleep apnea and dentistry intersect through the emerging field of dental sleep medicine. Our airway dentist in Elkin is trained to identify signs of sleep apnea through thorough airway screenings of the oral cavity. Moreover, our cosmetic dentist in Elkin can fabricate custom oral appliances, such as mandibular advancement devices (MADs), that help keep the airway open during sleep and improve breathing.

These appliances are worn in the mouth and work by repositioning the lower jaw and tongue, preventing them from blocking the airway. Thus, dentistry and sleep apnea are closely intertwined as airway dentists play a crucial role in the management of this sleep disorder.

In addition to diagnosis and treatment, dentists research dentistry and sleep apnea to focus on the prevention of sleep apnea. Airway dentists emphasize the importance of maintaining good oral health to reduce the risk of developing sleep apnea. Poor oral hygiene and untreated dental issues, such as gum disease and tooth decay, can contribute to the development of sleep apnea. 

Our dentist provides various dental services, which include flossing, professional teeth cleaning, and teeth whitening. By addressing oral health concerns, we help prevent the occurrence or progression of sleep apnea and educate patients about the various risk factors associated with sleep apnea, such as obesity and smoking.

Visit our dental office to get professional flossing, teeth cleaning, and teeth whitening in Elkin, to improve your smile and dental aesthetics.

Pediatric Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Pediatric Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Pediatric sleep apnea occurs when a child’s breathing is interrupted during sleep, leading to a decrease in oxygen supply to the body. While this condition is often overlooked or misconstrued as just a normal part of childhood, it is vital to understand the symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea to ensure timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment. 

  • Loud snoring: Snoring is not uncommon in children, but when it is loud and persistent, accompanied by snorting or gasping sounds, it may signal a sleep disorder. This occurs due to the partial obstruction of the airway during sleep, causing the child to struggle to breathe properly. Parents should be attentive to the intensity and frequency of snoring to identify potential sleep apnea.
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep: These pauses, also known as apneas, can last 10 seconds or longer. The child may appear to stop breathing, only to gasp or choke afterward as they struggle to resume normal breathing. These disruptions in breathing during sleep signify a potential obstruction in the airway, leading to sleep apnea.
  • Restless sleep: Children with sleep apnea often toss and turn throughout the night, trying to alleviate the discomfort caused by breathing difficulties. Consequently, they may frequently change positions, such as moving from their back to their side, to find a more comfortable breathing position. 

Parents may notice sheets and blankets becoming tangled or kicked off the bed due to the child’s restlessness while asleep.

If your children display any of the following symptoms, it’s time to schedule a visit with our affordable dentist in Elkin. Don’t hesitate to seek our comprehensive approach to diagnosing and managing sleep-related concerns for your children’s optimal health and happiness.

Benefits of Airway Dentistry for Your Child

Let’s discuss the benefits of airway dentistry for your child, including improved sleep, enhanced speech development, and prevention of future health problems.

  • Improved sleep in children: Proper breathing is crucial for a good night’s rest, and any obstructions in the airway can lead to interrupted or disturbed sleep. Children with airway issues such as enlarged tonsils or a narrow palate may experience issues like snoring or sleep apnea. Airway dentists can identify these problems early on and recommend appropriate interventions.
  • Speech development: The proper positioning of the tongue and correct oral muscular function are essential for clear speech. Children with airway problems often have tongue thrust, where the tongue rests against the front teeth instead of the palate. Airway dentists can assess the child’s oral structure and provide interventions like orthodontic appliances or myofunctional therapy.
  • Prevent future health problems: Children with untreated airway issues may develop various health problems later in life, including chronic sinus infections, recurrent ear infections, and even cardiovascular issues. By addressing these problems early on, airway dentistry can minimize the risk of future health complications and provide children with healthier adulthood.

Airway Dentistry for Children with Sleep Apnea in Elkin, NC

Airway Dentistry for Children with Sleep Apnea in Elkin, NC

Airway dentistry has become a crucial aspect of healthcare, aiming to provide effective solutions to alleviate pediatric sleep apnea symptoms and improve the overall well-being of affected children. Through the use of oral appliances and early intervention, our dentists work closely with other healthcare professionals to diagnose, treat, and manage sleep apnea in children.

At ManiDental Family Practice, we provide airway dentistry in Elkin, NC to help you manage and treat sleep disorders like sleep apnea. You can contact us for the finest dental experience in addressing sleep apnea.

Our expert team specializes in dental sleep medicine and offers tailored solutions to sleep apnea. We also provide teeth whitening and teeth cleaning in Elkin to help you maintain upright dental health conditions. We make your dental health, appearance, and aesthetics our priority.

Book an appointment today for comprehensive care and effective management of sleep apnea, and receive the best possible solutions from our affordable dentist in Elkin.

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