Sleep Apnea in Children


Snoring and mouth breathing in growing children can indicate an underlying problem.

Mouth breathing may indicate an airway obstruction, leading to poor sleep quality and subsequent inadequate neurocognitive development and whole-body development.

Signs to look for in growing children:

A tethered tongue (tongue-tied) prevents the tongue from resting in the roof of the mouth-preventing normal growth and development of the upper jaw.

Signs of a possible tongue tie:
• Inability of child to put the tongue to the roof of the mouth comfortably
• Difficulty with “s” and/or “r” sounds
• History of difficulty with breast feeding

A dental crossbite is a sign that the tongue is not resting in the roof of the mouth. If not treated early, a small upper jaw may lead to teeth stuck in the roof of the mouth and a compromised way.

Nasal obstruction and underdeveloped upper jaw:
• Chronic runny nose and/or allergies
• History of chronic ear infections
• Dry and chapped lips
• Red or swollen upper gums
• Opened-mouth posture while the child is sitting still (inability to keep lips together)
• Always eats with mouth opened – Anterior open bite (front teeth do not overlap)
• Dental crossbite
• Dental crowding and/or delayed eruption of adult teeth

Signs of obstructed airway:
• Have you heard your child stop breathing?
• Have you heard your child snore?
• Have you heard your child grind his or her teeth at night?
• Is there a history of bed wetting?
• Does your child toss and turn throughout the night?
• Do you observe hyperactivity and/or inability to pay attention to tasks?
• Do you observe daytime sleepiness?

What are the next steps?

Bring your child in for an examination. We will help determine the causes of the problem and direct you to the proper resources.

The next possible steps may include:
• The correction of the tongue tie
o Frenectomy
o The help of a myofunctional therapist who will help re-train the tongue
• A pediatric sleep study
• The help of an ENT if tonsils and adenoids need to be removed
• A maxillary expander to:
o Widen upper arch to make room for the tongue
o Correct jaw growth
o Allow adult teeth to erupt normally
o Increase nasal airway space