Sleep Apnea: A Condition Found In All Age Groups
Sleep apnea is a common condition and occurs when the upper airway becomes obstructed when a child or adult sleeps. This obstruction partially or completely blocks the flow of air and oxygen and breathing stops momentarily. This disruption of breathing typically happens several times a night to several times an hour depending on the severity of the sleep apnea. Patients with undiagnosed and untreated sleep apnea typically feel exhausted all day. As a result, there is a loss in quality of life due to the inability to concentrate, lack of energy for daily tasks, and difficulty in learning new skills. Sleep apnea can affect patients in a number of other negative ways as they age due to stress on the heart and repeated episodes of lack of oxygen to the brain.
“This is a situation where dentists are on the front lines of looking for and identifying someone with the signs of sleep apnea by conducting a thorough medical history and examination,” said Dr. Erin O’Grodnick.“ During an exam, we can see if there appears to be an obstruction in the throat area or even evidence from the condition of the teeth. We look for signs and symptoms in patients of all ages. Children should be screened for sleep apnea if we can see an obstruction and particularly if they have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. The sobering reality is that a child may not have ADD or ADHD; it could simply be that the child has difficulty with concentration and/or expected behaviors as a result of living with untreated sleep apnea,” she stated.
If either of our dentists finds evidence of sleep apnea during a normal routine exam, we can help you get connected with a specialist who can conduct a sleep study and confirm the diagnosis. You can then start the process to obtain treatment.
Please call our office with any questions or concerns, 908-236-9650.