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Healthy Start

Click here for our Sleep Disordered Breathing Questionnaire for Children PDF

Many children suffer from sleep-disordered breathing, however, many times it is overlooked, misdiagnosed and unfortunately left untreated.

Understanding Sleep Disordered Breathing

Sleep disordered breathing is a broad category of sleep problems that includes snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome, and sleep apnea. All of these breathing problems make it hard for your child to get good rest at night. When they aren't getting good sleep at night, you might see symptoms like:

  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Dark circles under eyes
  • Difficulty waking
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Moodiness or depression
  • Difficulties in school
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Frequent illness
  • Poor growth or failure to thrive

These occur because sleep is the body's vital rejuvenation period. When a child isn't getting good sleep, they aren't benefiting from the rejuvenation potential of sleep. They are tired during the day and may not want to get up, no matter how much time they've spent "sleeping".

Some of the brain's vital functions during sleep include mood and metabolic regulation. Without good sleep, children can be aggressive, moody, or may have difficulty focusing. They may also experience memory problems that can make it hard for them to achieve in school. The combination of poor academic performance and bad behavior can lead to serious problems at school.

Sleep disordered breathing may also be the chief cause of night time problems, such as bedwetting or nightmares. Because they aren't sleeping properly, their body may not regulate urine production or control. And because they may literally be choking while asleep, it's common to translate this sensation to a nightmare.

Because of the toll that poor sleep takes on the body, children may get sick more often than their classmates or siblings, and they may stop growing as well as they had been.

The Link between ADHD and Sleep

We know there is a strong correlation between ADHD and sleep problems. Perhaps 50% of children with ADHD may have some form of sleep disorder. However, we're not entirely sure of the connection.

In some cases, it seems that the ADHD may be partly to blame for the sleep disorders. Other times. the sleep disorder and ADHD may stem from a common cause. But in many cases, it is actually the sleep disorder that could be causing the ADHD.

Sleep Problems Misdiagnosed as ADHD

One problem parents face is that their doctor may simply be misdiagnosing a sleep problem as ADHD. Children who don't get enough sleep have a hard time focusing on challenging subjects and are more likely to let their attention wander. When they are tired, children are more likely to show hyperactive behaviors.

Misdiagnosis partly comes from the fact that doctors assume that sleep disorders are rare in children, but this is a misconception. Older studies suggest that about 6% of children could have sleep apnea, a proportion that has likely increased thanks to developmental changes in the jaw and airway as well as increased rates of childhood obesity.

In adults, sleep apnea and snoring are closely related, but the relationship is less strong in children. About 50% of children with sleep apnea don't have loud snoring. This makes it hard for parents to identify the breathing problem in their children. If parents don't report sleep problems, doctors may not consider them and may not recommend sleep testing to eliminate that possibility.

Resolving ADHD with Better Breathing at Night

One of the most common forms of sleep disorder children face is sleep disordered breathing (snoring or sleep apnea). This is so common and so influential that researchers think as much as 25% of children with ADHD could eliminate their symptoms if they get their sleep disorder breathing problems treated.

Sleep disordered breathing is a broad category of sleep problems that include both snoring and sleep apnea. If your child can improve breathing, then in many cases their ADHD may resolve or improve.

How Healthy Start Works

Healthy Start uses soft plastic aligners that can be comfortably worn during sleep. Because the system starts in Early Childhood, it allows the teeth to erupt into the proper position, sometimes eliminating or lessening the need for future orthodontic treatment for alignment and jaw position.

Your child will start wearing the aligner at night if they can. There is an initial adjustment period. Habits such as mouth breathing can initially interfere. However, once your child adapts to wearing the aligner, the system is very easy to wear at night.

There is also a short period of active wear during the day. This utilizes tongue exercises and jaw motions to stimulate the growth and development of the jaw.

For More Information

For more information, we are pleased to provide a complimentary consultation to evaluate your child. Please fill out the Sleep Questionnaire prior to your appointment.

Click here for our Sleep Disordered Breathing Questionnaire for Children PDF

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