Sleep apnea is a common condition that prevents a person from achieving true rest during sleep because the airway(s) are obstructed by soft oral tissues. While this condition is commonly associated with adults, the truth is that children can have sleep apnea as well – especially if they have bulky oral tissue or congenital abnormalities that affect breathing. Our oral surgeons provide surgical treatment for sleep apnea when conservative treatments such as CPAP machines and oral appliances are insufficient. Following is some helpful information about sleep apnea.
An Overview of Sleep Apnea
Sleep apnea literally means that a person stops breathing during rest. Apnea, the cessation of breathing, can last for about 60 seconds each time. When apnea occurs, the brain sends signals to the body to wake slightly so that proper breathing can be resumed. Apnea followed by slight waking can occur cyclically hundreds of times in an eight to ten hour period.
Over time, untreated sleep apnea will cause severe sleep deprivation, which can have many negative effects on one’s health. Sleep is essential for rejuvenation of the body’s various systems and for optimal brain function. This is why sleep deprivation can cause depression, irritability, memory loss, chronic fatigue, and physiological impairments.
Some research has shown a connection between cardiovascular problems and sleep apnea. Researchers believe this link is due to labored and erratic breathing patterns caused by apnea along with a depletion of oxygen saturation in the blood. Lack of oxygen and erratic breathing patterns may weaken the heart while also increasing heart and respiratory rates to overcompensate for diminished oxygen intake.
Treating Sleep Apnea
In some instances, patients with sleep apnea get relief from appliances like CPAP machines, which emit a stream of air into airways to prevent oral and nasal obstructions. Another form of non-invasive treatment is the use of a custom oral appliance that positions the lower jaw forward to prevent oral airway obstruction.
When these treatment methods fall short, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon may need to remove excess tissue in the nose or throat that is causing airway obstruction.
If your child has sleep apnea or has been referred to our practice by a dentist, call our skilled team today to reserve a consultation.