Dental Tips |3 min read

Does My Child Have Sleep Apnea?

A young boy sleeping on his front

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep.

It can affect people of all ages, including children.

In children, sleep apnea is one of several conditions often referred to as sleep-disordered breathing (SDB).

If left untreated, SDB can lead to serious health problems later in life, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease.

Symptoms of sleep apnea in children include:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Bedwetting
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • Mood changes or irritability
  • Mouth breathing or a dry mouth in the morning

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, a sleep study may be needed to diagnose and treat sleep apnea.

How to treat my child’s sleep apnea

Many young children with sleep apnea have underdeveloped dental arches—the curve of either the top or bottom set of teeth. In these cases, the teeth are set too far back or too narrow, leading to dental problems later.

If these conditions are left untreated, by the time they are fully grown, little that can be done to correct them.

Treatment for sleep apnea in children may include

  • lifestyle changes
  • losing weight
  • sleeping on the back
  • continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine
  • specific treatment to fix overbite or crossbite

How to tell if your child has sleep apnea

If your child has any of the following symptoms, SBD treatment may be in order.

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing during sleep
  • Restless sleep
  • Heavy night sweating
  • Bedwetting
  • Difficulty concentrating or paying attention
  • Mood changes or irritability
  • Mouth breathing or dry mouth in the mornings

If you recognize two or more of these symptoms, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent serious health problems later.

If you have concerns about your child’s sleeping routine, we’re here to help. Call us today.

Curious about your child’s potential to have a sleeping disorder?

If you suspect your child may be living with sleep apnea, the acronym BEARS is an excellent screening tool you can use at home. It stands for:

B – Bedtime

Does your child have trouble falling asleep or even going to bed?

E – Excessive daytime sleepiness

Do you find that you have difficulty waking your child? Do they appear groggy or tired throughout the day?

A – Awakening during the night

Does your child awaken during the night and experience difficulty returning to sleep? Are other factors disrupting your child’s sleep?

R – Regularity and duration of sleep

Does your child get adequate sleep each day? How many hours of sleep should your child be getting? What time do they go to bed and wake up during the week and on weekends?

S – Snoring

Does your child snore? How loud? Is it every night? Do they stop breathing or make gasping and choking sounds while sleeping?

Main takeaway

Childhood sleep apnea is a common but often overlooked sleep disorder that can seriously affect a child’s overall health and well-being.

It occurs when a child’s breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep, leading to poor quality sleep and potential health problems.

Early treatment can be the solution to preventing the problem following your child into adulthood.

Remember, B E A R S could help identify any problems.

Help is at hand with modern technology and the caring team at Stillwater Family Dental. Give us a call today.


Stillwater Family Dental provides dental services to the following cities in Minnesota and Wisconsin:

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