Ok, February is Kid’s Dental Health month so this blog is dedicated to an area where the new science coming out asks parents to look at the sleep habits of their kids in a different light.
First, sleep is not over-rated; in fact good sleep is absolutely essential to overall health and for kids, proper development as they grow. Kids may actually show some different signs of sleep disturbance compared to adults and they need less disturbances an hour for it to be an issue than for adults.
One of screening tools for pediatric sleep apnea has an acronym BEARS
E=excessive daytime sleepiness
R=Regularity and Duration of sleep
According to Dan Bruce, a diplomate of the American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine, excessively sleepy children can present as either tired or hyperactive. Some of the other risk factors for sleep disorders in kids may include large tonsils, mouth breathing and a high narrow palate. Dr. Bruce also points out that there have several studies that have linked ADHD symptoms to sleep-related breathing disorders.
There are potential developmental issues for kids if they have poor sleep and breathing habits. If the tongue does not go where it needs to go there is a chance that the roof of the mouth will not expand to where it needs to for the proper alignement of the teeth. This is one of the common results that happens when a kid breathes through his mouth (while awake and/or sleeping). The research has shown that different types of poor alignments can result from the different positions of where the tongue goes (when not on the rough of the mouth)
Another contributing factor could be if the tongue is tied to close to the floor of the mouth. This tight tongue can prevent the tongue from getting to the roof of the mouth where it belongs and again can restrict proper growth and development of the mouth.
In addition to the usual cast and crew of health care providers who can help I would like to give a shout out to the Myofunctional therapists who have special training to help correct issues related to mouth breathing, tongue posture and tongue habits.
If your child exhibits any of the symptoms listed above I highly recommend that you explore your options because as I see it….breathing trumps everything else.