Dr. Gary Vander Vliet on Sleep Apnea in Children

The High Tech Dentist, Dr. Gary Vander Vliet, stopped by the RNJ Morning Program on Friday to talk with Morning Mike about sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea is a condition where a person stops breathing while they are sleeping. There are approximately 40 million adults affected by sleep apnea – but many people aren’t aware that up to 5% of children have been diagnosed with sleep apnea.

A person with sleep apnea stops breathing repeatedly while sleeping anywhere from 10 seconds to as long as three minutes. Obstructive Sleep Apnea is a condition where the upper airway is blocked.

Dentists have a role in diagnosing sleep apnea. During an exam, they look at the tonsils and adenoids as well as the teeth. Children with sleep apnea usually have enlarged tonsils, adenoids, narrow arches, and a high palatal vault. Usually enlarged tonsils and or adenoids are causing the child to snore or breathe abnormally. Children should not snore. The airway in children who have moderate or severe OSA is so compromised that the body is in a continued “fight or flight mode” as the brain struggles for oxygen. If left untreated, sleep apnea in children can lead to learning, behavior, growth, and heart problems.

There is significant evidence that sleep-related breathing disorders are associated with cognitive and behavioral impairment in children. It is possible that a percentage of these children diagnosed with ADHD would improve if they slept better. A child diagnosed with ADHD will exhibit sympoms that mimic the very natural consequences of unmet physiologic needs like quality sleep. Approximately 11% of children 4 to 17 years of age (6.4 million) have been diagnosed with ADHD last year.

Dr. Gary suggests having your child examined by a dentist or physician to have the airway evaluated. A tonsillectomy may be recommended. Orthodontic treatment may be recommended to broaden the dental arches. Dr. Gary recommended a video on the subject of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, “Finding Connor Deegan”.

You can learn more by visiting Dr. Vander Vliet’s website, thehightechdentist.com. He would be happy to answer any questions you may have. You can find Dr. Vander Vliet at Advanced Dental Care of West Morris, Hastings Square, Schooley’s Mountain Rd., Hackettstown. Call 908-852-8858.