Is it ADHD? Or does My Child have Sleep Apnea?

social_posts_09_2015_v2These days, many children are being diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). Some of them are acting out in school and getting in trouble, leading to a diagnosis of ADHD and a prescription for Ritalin. What’s interesting is, a large percentage of these kids have been found to have underdeveloped mandibles or underdeveloped maxillae. Their chins may be recessed, or their palates may be very ‘high-vaulted,’ and the space between the tongue and the roof of the mouth is larger than normal. These conditions can result in oral structures such as the jaws pushing back and closing the airway. When the airway is closed, they are not breathing enough – they are not getting enough oxygen, which can cause a dangerous condition known as sleep apnea. If the child has sleep apnea, they may just be tired during the day, acting out at school because they are not getting the sleep that they normally should. Well-meaning doctors may misdiagnose some of these children and prescribe Ritalin for ADHD, when really the cause of their behavior problems may be something else entirely.

Sleep apnea can cause extended breathing pauses while sleeping and loud snoring. It happens because of obstructed air passages that are not able to provide a healthy flow of air during sleep. The condition can lead to a number of physical and emotional problems, and it can be a life-threatening risk to one’s health. Fortunately, there are a variety of advanced diagnostic and treatment techniques available at our practice that can effectively address sleep apnea and have your child sleeping in a healthier, more peaceful way.

If a child has sleep apnea, one treatment method is a palate expander, which is a removable orthodontic appliance. It’s a very simple procedure. As soon as the palate is expanded, it opens the airway. Removal of the tonsils and the adenoids may also be appropriate in order to further reduce clogging of the airway. Once this is accomplished, you may just have a whole different kid! No more meds – they can be back to being a normal-functioning child again without the need to be on Ritalin for the rest of his or her life.

Dr. Michael Fulbright

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For more information on sleep apnea in children, or to schedule a consultation with Dr. Fulbright, please contact Fulbright Cosmetic & Reconstructive Dentistry today.