Kingsport Pediatric Dentistry

AROUND 1 IN 5 children with a snoring habit get it from sleep apnea, a sleep disorder that causes repeated brief interruptions to breathing during sleep. This disorder, as well as being potentially life-threatening, can have serious consequences for oral health.

What Is Obstructive Sleep Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA for short) happens when the airway is blocked, usually by the tongue and soft palate collapsing against the back of the throat, closing it off. At this point, the brain forces the person to wake up and take a breath, which can happen hundreds of times in a single night. Sleep apnea makes it very hard to get a restful night of sleep.

Sleep Apnea’s Impacts on Oral Health

How is oral health connected? Someone who suffers from sleep apnea is always tired. Insufficient sleep in a child can show up through symptoms like irritability, hyperactivity, exhaustion, and difficulty concentrating at school. The issue can be even bigger and lead to decreased brain development, learning problems, weight management, growth issues, and frequency in illness. A child with sleep apnea will also be more vulnerable to oral health problems like gum disease and temporomandibular joint disorders like TMJ or TMD.
Studies have shown that when the throat relaxes in a sleep apnea episode, the jaw reflexively clenches to prevent the airway from closing off. Problems associated with TMD include pain when chewing, soreness in the jaw, chronic headaches, neck and shoulder pain, and even worn, cracked, or broken teeth.

The dentist often spots the sign of sleep apnea first!

A child’s dentist is often the first one to diagnose sleep apnea. During a teeth cleaning, your dentist may spot inflamation of the throat and palate. The redness, swelling, and ulcerations are indications of an issue.

Sleep apnea patients often have bad breath. That’s due to the mouth breathing while sleeping. The flow of saliva is reduced when we breathe through our mouth. When the saliva isn’t rinsing out the bacteria particles in your mouth, you will suffer from bad breath. This salivia does even more than improve your breath; it protects your gums and teeth. Without this saliva flow, the bacteria can grow on teeth and a child could see increased cavities. Your gums can also become dry and begin to recede.

Someone who suffers from sleep apnea might also struggle with worn or broken teeth. This can happen when someone grinds their teeth and the action breaks down the protective layer of the teeth making them more vulnerable.

A child’s tongue can become scalloped when fighting sleep apnea. This happens when they press their tongue to the bottom of their mouth during sleep. Over time the sides of the tongue can appear wave like in shape.

Routine checkups with a dentist are important for your oral health. This is especially important for children as you want to help them build healthy routines and set your child up for a lifetime of good oral health. Be sure to make dental appointments twice a year. Your child’s dentist is on your team and will help you spot any concerns.

Kingsport Pediatric Dentistry provides dental services for children and adolescents in the East Tennessee Area. We strive to provide a fun, caring, and child-friendly environment. We are here to help your children form healthy oral hygiene habits and help them take care of their teeth. We are conveniently located in Kingsport at 1741 Moreland Drive. To make an appointment with one of Kingsport Pediatric Dentistry‘s doctors, please call: 423-247-1994.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions. 

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