What is sleep disordered breathing?

Obstructive sleep disordered breathing (“SDB”) is a sign that the upper airway is not working properly while you sleep. SDB can cause snoring and may result in increased breathing effort in order to compensate for blockages in the upper airway. Physical signs of SDB include open mouth breathing, dark circles under the eyes, feeling unrefreshed after a night's sleep, and teeth that are worn down.

Signs to look for at night include frequent interruptions in sleep, waking several times during sleep, bedwetting after being potty trained, excessive sweating, sleeping in the extended head-neck position, excessive motion while sleeping (bedsheets are all rustled), snoring, apnic events (interruptions in breathing, breath holding, gasping or choking for air), nightmares or night terrors.

Left untreated, SDB can lead to serious health and developmental issues

Mild effects of SDB include dark circles under the eyes, fatigue and difficulty getting up in the morning. Left untreated, SDB can lead to chronic conditions including restlessness and inability to concentrate. Over time, SDB can have serious health impacts, including diminished brain development (loss of gray matter), delayed cognitive and physical development, and learning disabilities.

SDB is treatable

If you suspect that you or your child suffers from sleep disordered breathing, we can help. We work with a variety of leading practitioners who treat SDB and sleep breathing problems, including experience with treating children with SDB. Where appropriate, we may ask you to speak to your doctor about obtaining imaging of the adenoids, a sleep study, or specific blood work. We may also suggest that you work with a naturopath, ear nose and throat (ENT) doctor, or allergist, as necessary. Whether you prefer an allopathic or naturopathic approach (or want both), we can refer you to a range of experienced practitioners.

Preventive measures require effort but can limit the causes of SDB and prevent worsening of symptoms. For example, if a child is a mouth breather and we are able to transition the child to habitual nose breathing, this can result in the tongue naturally resting at the roof of the mouth. In turn, the upward pressure of the tongue on the roof of the mouth can help to grow the palate and expand the child’s upper airway. At West Burlington Dentistry, we guide parents so that they can create healthy habits that help their children develop in a balanced and beautiful way.

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