Sleep apnea doesn’t only affect adults, kids can have it, too. Pediatric sleep apnea is a disorder where your child’s breathing is either completely or partially blocked repeatedly while they sleep. This is due to a blockage or narrowing in their upper airway.

According to statistics, this condition affects about 1-5% of children. It starts anywhere between the ages of two and eight years old. Sleep apnea is a chronic illness so if your child has it, they’ll have it for life. However, the good news is that treatment options are available.

There are a few differences and similarities between adult and child sleep apnea. Here’s an overview of some important things that parents need to know.

young boy sleeping peacefully, cuddling with a white teddy bear

Signs and Symptoms

Adult and pediatric sleep apnea patients share similar symptoms. Below are some common ones between both demographics:

  • Loud snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • A restless night’s sleep
  • Coughing, choking, or snorting during sleep
  • Mouth-breathing
  • Night-time sweating

Some babies and young kids with the condition don’t necessarily snore. However, they still do have disrupted sleep. Signs of sleep apnea specifically for children include:

  • Bed-wetting
  • Sleep terrors
  • Sleeping in odd positions

In addition, children with sleep apnea may exhibit the below behavioral symptoms because of getting a bad night’s rest. These include:

  • Not doing well in school
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Learning issues
  • Weight gain
  • Hyperactivity

Underlying Causes Of Sleep Apnea In Kids

Obesity tends to be a common cause for adults who suffer from sleep apnea. When it comes to kids, the leading condition is enlarged adenoids or tonsils. Obesity can play a role in this illness for children, too. Other causes of sleep apnea in kids include neuromuscular disease or craniofacial anomalies.

Added Risk Factors For Children

In addition to obesity, neuromuscular disease, and craniofacial anomalies, risk factors for sleep apnea in children include:

  • Down syndrome
  • Sickle cell illness
  • Family history of the disorder
  • Cerebral palsy
  • Low birth weight


Sleep apnea can have scary complications for children when left untreated. These include:

  • Heart issues
  • Inability to grow and thrive
  • Death

Treatment Options

There are several effective sleep apnea treatments for children that vary depending on the case and severity. First, there’s surgery to remove enlarged adenoids and tonsils. If obesity is the underlying cause of a child’s sleep apnea, then a doctor may encourage a lifestyle change. This includes plenty of exercise and a healthy diet.

A continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine is another option. This delivers gentle air pressure via a mask worn during sleep, and it helps to keep your child’s airways open. Unfortunately, this option can be hard for children (and adults) to adapt to because the device can be cumbersome. Many tubes come out of the machine and a mask must cover the mouth and nose. While the therapy does work, many find it hard to fall and stay asleep.

Depending on the age of your child, you can turn to your Miami Beach dentist for treatment options. Young kids that are still growing can use a “palatal expander” orthodontic appliance. This helps open their airway up and widens the roof of a child’s mouth subtly over time. It also separates bones that won’t fuse until adolescence. Another bonus of this treatment is it can eliminate or reduce the chances your child will need orthodontics in the future.

Meanwhile, teenagers can often benefit from oral appliance therapy (OAT). It’s similar to a custom mouthguard and repositions your child’s jaw during sleep. As it places the tongue away from the back of their throat, it reduces the likelihood of obstruction. Many adults turn to this treatment, too, because it’s far easier to fall asleep with than CPAP. And, it’s just as effective.

Sleep Apnea – Seeking Diagnosis

While you can reach out to most dentists in Miami Beach for sleep apnea treatment, they cannot diagnose the disorder. However, they can refer you to a sleep doctor who specializes in this. You can also reach out to your family physician if you have concerns that your child may suffer from sleep apnea. Early diagnosis and treatment are key. This decreases their risk of complications in the future.

Sleep Apnea Treatments in Miami Beach, FL

At SoBe Dentist we help sleep apnea patients get a better night’s sleep. We offer oral appliance therapy, which is effective, easy to fall asleep with, and comfortable. For more information or to schedule an appointment, please call (305) 535-2225, today! You can also book an appointment online.