How your child breathes is important.
Nasal breathing means breathing through your nose and should be encouraged over mouth breathing, especially while asleep. For both children and adults, nasal breathing allows the lungs to get more oxygen and the nose acts as a filter to help prevent some small particles in the air from getting to the lungs. Except during illness, every breath should be through the nose.
Mouth breathing allows unfiltered, cold, dry air into the lungs. An open mouth can lead to distortions in how the upper and lower jaws form, crowded teeth and poor swallowing habits. Mouth breathing can sometimes lead to gum disease or tooth decay caused by dry mouth.
Parents can monitor their child’s breathing habits during the day to remind them to use their noses. While asleep, every breath should also be through the nose. If your child has trouble keeping their lips together, there may be a restriction, like enlarged tonsils and adenoids, that makes it hard to breathe through the nose. You can speak with your child’s pediatrician if you suspect your child has an issue.
Why parents should pay attention to their child breathing
What signs should parents watch out for?
The most obvious sign that a parent should watch for is mouth breathing, but caregivers should also notice if there are any breathing sounds, including snoring, during sleep. Breathing should be through the nose and silent.
While most parents don’t sleep in the same bedroom with their children, it is beneficial to watch your child’s sleep habits sometimes and keep an eye out for signs of disruption. Some other signs to watch for during sleep that show your child might be experiencing sleep-disordered breathing are:
- Unusual sleep position
- Teeth grinding
- Waking up frequently
Your child may also show behavioral signs while they’re awake. Many children who are diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) might be sleeping poorly—the behavior signs are similar:
- Daytime drowsiness
- Trouble concentrating
- Irritability or moodiness
- Fidgeting and hyperactivity
SO, MOM… Who do I go to for sleep apnea?
Oxygen is so important during sleep because it allows for proper rest and healing. The lack of it during sleep is generally caused by either enlarged tonsils or a malformation in the orofacial area (teeth, jaw, nasal passages and more). If any of these problems are present, it is best to seek treatment.
The majority of children with sleep disorders are effectively treated by having the tonsils removed. Others may be treated with nonsurgical means such as rapid palatal expansion, functional orthodontics and/or orthodontic correction. This approach is based on correcting destructive oral postures with the goal of enlarging and stabilizing the airway.
While parents are more likely to bring their child to their primary care provider or pediatrician for symptoms, it is good to know that a well-trained dentist can determine the cause of sleep problems and treat them. Dentists trained in Temporomandibular Joint Disorders (TMJ) are an excellent choice because they are usually also educated in treating sleep disorders. They are qualified to screen and treat orofacial, dental, skeletal and airway development.
It is surprising to learn that the newest studies on sleep and TMJ also include bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth while sleeping). This can lead to pain in the jaw joint and muscles of the face, headaches, and, even, neck pain. There is a strong bruxism link to sleep and TMJ disorders.
The earlier the child receives therapy, the easier the treatment is. This is the time when facial growth is still forming. Also, a child must go into a deep sleep for growth hormones to be released. Otherwise, their growth will be impaired.
Educate yourself about sleep disorders… for your child’s sake.
The importance of sleep
A good night’s sleep is essential for everyone, especially children. Many children experience breathing problems during sleep (sleep disordered breathing) without their parents even realizing it. Getting enough air through an unobstructed airway during sleep and while awake is a necessary step in developing good health for a lifetime, one night’s sleep at a time.
The amount of sleep your child gets is important, but good quality sleep is also critical. Sleep restores energy and helps physical growth and mental development. Not getting enough quality sleep can have negative consequences like behavioral issues, poor brain development and high blood pressure. Paying attention to our child’s airway and how they breathe while they are asleep and awake is crucial.
Do you have a child who snores, is sleepy all the time, has a hard time concentrating in school or is cranky and irritable in the mornings? As a parent, you will want to intervene to find successful treatment.
Other signs to look for are:
- a finger sucking habit
- allergy shiner under the eyes
- enlarged tonsils
- mouth breathing
Proper, restful sleep is necessary for growth and development, health and wellness.
Sleep deprivation may be the most common sleep disorder that affects daytime function in children.
OXYGEN IS KEY! Without it, adults and children do not get the oxygen their bodies need to rejuvenate. With snoring and sleep apnea conditions, proper, restful sleep is a necessity!!