Ask the Expert

Does my child have sleep apnea and what should I do about it?

By Quest Orthodontics November 30, 2017

Snoring may not seem like a big deal to most people besides the annoying noise heard throughout the home, keeping everyone awake. It’s more than that. Snoring is the cardinal sign of sleep apnea, which is a loss of breathing and oxygen for 10-30 second episodes, occurring multiple times throughout the night. This happens due to a restricted airway to your lungs.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 25 million Americans are affected by sleep apnea, and a staggering 85% of those people are undiagnosed. The five main impacts surrounding sleep apnea include stroke, heart attack, obesity, diabetes, and motor vehicle accidents due to sleepiness while driving. That means roughly 20 million Americans are walking around with an increased chance of stroke or heart attack without
even knowing. And did you know that 3-5% of children also have sleep apnea and most pediatricians do not diagnose it?

As orthodontists, we may be the first doctors to communicate this issue with patients and parents. At Quest Orthodontics, we screen each and every patient, young or old, for sleep apnea. We do this by asking very specific questions about their sleeping habits. We can also view our patient’s airways three-dimensionally using our 3D CBCT X-ray unit. It has become an excellent tool for us to show patients exactly what the problem is,
dentally, facially, and especially dealing with the airway. There are multiple orthodontic treatment options that can help reduce sleep apnea such as
expanding the upper jaw, growth appliances for the lower jaw, and in severe cases jaw surgery. We also work with a team of sleep apnea specialists that can fabricate intraoral appliances for adults to help reduce sleep apnea. As dental professionals, it has fallen on our hands to help screen for this silent killer and refer for treatment to the right specialists.

Thank you, Quest Orthodontics for answering this week's question.  Dr. Arjun Patel is located at 227 Sandy Springs Pl NE #410 Atlanta, GA 30328. They can be reached by phone: (470) 440- 7330. Their fax number is (470) 440- 7331.  Quest Orthodontics is on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

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