While childhood sleep apnea is extremely rare, rising obesity rates have made awareness of the condition come to light. Our training allows us to offer you and your child education and treatment surrounding sleep health in the simplest and most cost-effective way possible.
Dentistry serves a vital role in treating this silent epidemic. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends oral appliances as a primary therapy for the treatment of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea and for patients with severe sleep apnea who can’t tolerate CPAP treatment.
What is OSA?
OSA is a breathing disorder characterized by brief interruptions of breathing during sleep due to a blockage in the airway. Obstructions occur when throat muscles, tongue, tonsils, or the soft palate falls back into the throat. The obstruction results in a severe drop in blood oxygen levels throughout the night.
OSA is typically diagnosed using a polysomnogram or a sleep study. During a sleep study, a sleep physician monitors brain activity and body system functioning while a patient rests overnight at a sleep lab. The specialist evaluates the study data collected to diagnose sleep disorders and recommend treatment. If indicated by the sleep doctor, a dentist trained in sleep medicine works with him/her to treat obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. In some cases, a home sleep study may also be possible instead of reporting to a sleep lab.
How Is OSA Treated?
Treatment of snoring and obstructive sleep apnea may involve surgery, CPAP or BiPAP machines, or oral appliance therapy. Oral appliances provide the least invasive option and often a good choice for treatment of mild to moderate OSA, especially for children. A carefully calibrated appliance can comfortably help hold the jaw in a precise position throughout the night, allowing critical oxygen flow.
All treatment recommendations should be made in conjunction with your child’s sleep physician. If appliance therapy is selected, it’s essential the right method and positioning are designed to precisely maintain your child’s airway.