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Should You Worry When Your Kid Snores Every Night?

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As parents, we often find comfort in the gentle sounds of our children sleeping soundly through the night. The light snoring of a child can even be cute on occasion. However, if your child is consistently snoring, it might be a cause for concern. While occasional snoring is common in children, persistent snoring could be a sign of a more serious condition known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Understanding the implications of snoring in children, its potential impact on their well-being, and when to seek professional help is critical for ensuring their health and quality of life. Here, pediatric dentist Dr. Jeni Kong of Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry in Lawrenceville, GA outlines some of these important must-knows about childhood snoring.

What does it mean if my child snores?

Technically or anatomically speaking, snoring occurs when the airway is partially blocked during sleep, which leads to vibrations in the throat tissues. In children, snoring may simply mean the child is temporarily congested due to a cold or allergies. However, pediatric snoring can be indicative of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is primarily characterized by recurrent episodes of partial or complete upper airway obstruction while sleeping. Unlike in adults, where OSA is often associated with obesity, in children, the primary cause is usually enlarged tonsils and adenoids, though other risk factors may come into play as well. These may include:

  • Inadequate airway size
  • Inadequate neuromuscular tone of the airway muscles
  • Certain anatomic anomalies
  • Craniofacial anomalies
  • Neuromuscular diseases
  • Hypotonia
  • Pediatric obesity

How can snoring affect a child's well-being?

Undiagnosed or untreated OSA in children can have serious consequences on their physical and mental health. According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), OSA is associated with a wide range of potential complications, including both physical and psychological issues, such as:

  • Cardiac issues
  • Impaired growth
  • Learning problems
  • Behavioral issues
  • Fatigue/daytime sleepiness
  • Poor grades
  • Developmental delays

When should I seek medical help for a child who snores?

If your child snores loudly three or more nights per week or exhibits symptoms such as abrupt awakenings accompanied by shortness of breath, morning headaches, or difficulty staying asleep, it's essential to consult with a healthcare professional. Pediatric dentists are well-positioned to identify children at risk for OSA during routine dental visits. During your child's annual pediatric dental exam, Dr. Kong may assess tonsillar hypertrophy and airway obstruction and recommend further evaluation by a medical specialist, such as an otolaryngologist or pulmonologist, as needed. Or, in some cases, an orthodontic evaluation may be an appropriate next step based on the findings of the pediatric dental exam.

How is snoring treated in children?

Treatment options for pediatric OSA vary depending on the severity and underlying cause of the condition. Nonsurgical and more conservative interventions may include addressing potential nasal allergies, managing the child's weight, and adjusting their sleeping position. Dental interventions, such as those that could potentially expand the mouth or palate, may also be considered in select cases. Even certain orthodontic treatments may be beneficial in helping to reduce snoring caused my certain spatial or alignment issues. For children with severe OSA or anatomical abnormalities contributing to airway obstruction, surgery may ultimately be recommended. Because every child's case is unique, it is important to consult with your child's healthcare providers and pediatric dentist to better understand how their snoring may best be addressed to protect their health, safety, and overall well-being.

Concerned about how often your kid snores? Contact our pediatric dentist in Lawrenceville, GA to learn more

Persistent snoring in children should not be ignored, as it could be a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea — a potentially serious condition that can impact their physical and mental well-being. Early detection and intervention offer one of the best possible options for minimizing the risks associated with untreated childhood snoring, including those that can negatively impact their physical and emotional health. By recognizing the signs of OSA, consulting with healthcare professionals, and exploring appropriate treatment options, you can help ensure your child's health and quality of life for years to come. If you have a child who snores, don't hesitate to call our caring team at Apple Tree Pediatric Dentistry to schedule your child's pediatric dental exam in Lawrenceville, GA with Dr. Jeni Kong today.

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.