We talk a lot about sleep apnea - but for a good reason! The seriousness of sleep apnea is often underrated, especially for children, as many parents think their child will just 'grow out of it.' Unfortunately, the reality is that leaving sleep apnea untreated leaves affected children at risk of severe and potentially lifelong side effects. These dangers are exactly why we think treating sleep apnea as soon as possible is critical. If you're noticing the signs of sleep apnea or other sleep disorder in your child, it's time to call Legends Dental.

Why Is Treating Sleep Apnea Important?

Treating sleep apnea early is crucial because it can help prevent the development of severe and potentially lifelong consequences for your child's brain and overall health.

Here's why: Sleep apnea prevents the body from reaching the third stage of NREM sleep. This level of sleep is essential because it is where growth hormones are regulated. When your child's body does not reach this level, your child doesn't get the growth hormone they need and will not grow as they should. The result is that many children living with sleep apnea or other sleep disorders are frequently smaller than their peers.

In addition to growth problems, when the body is under stress caused by sleep disorders, it cannot regulate blood sugar, which leaves your child at risk of developing diabetes. Other consequences include high blood pressure, a greater risk of obesity and being overweight, and a higher chance of stroke.

Sleep Disorders and the Brain

Not only is the body affected by sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, but these conditions also can lead to developmental deficits in children. These issues include difficulty learning new skills, problems with making decisions and memory loss.

The prefrontal cortex of the brain can also be impacted, which means that your child's reasoning, ability to process information, and problem-solving capabilities can be impaired.

Sleep apnea and other types of sleep and breathing disorders can lead to speech impairment and language acquisition problems as well.

Sleep disorders such as sleep apnea can also cause behavioral problems, including:

  • Depression
  • ADD/ADHD
  • Aggression
  • Anger/outbursts
  • Hyperactivity
  • Lack of focus
  • Learning disorders
  • Cognition issues
  • Socialization problems

Another consequence of sleep apnea that is not talked about frequently is nighttime bedwetting. In many cases, children living with untreated sleep apnea can wet their bed into adolescence - which can be both frustrating and embarrassing. Has your child been diagnosed with a sleep disorder or sleep apnea? It's time to give Legends Dental a call today at 254-799-9540.