Could My Child Have Sleep Apnea?

Sleep apnea is a destructive health condition that robs a child of rejuvenating rest. Most often caused by obstruction of the airways during sleep, this condition distresses the body on emotional, cognitive, and physical levels. Researchers have linked sleep apnea to a number of conditions including cardiovascular irregularities, depression, stroke, and hypertension. Fortunately, there are solutions for treating sleep apnea provided by our oral surgeon. A sleep apnea specialist, our oral surgeon can help patients of all ages, including children, regain the ability to sleep restfully and reduce the risk for conditions associated with this sleep disorder.

How does sleep apnea cause sleep deprivation in a child?

Children with sleep apnea stop breathing for short periods of time during the night. This cessation of breath is caused by airways being obstructed by soft oral tissues or nasal abnormalities. For example, a deviated septum or excessive throat tissue can block a patient’s ability to breathe properly. When the patient stops breathing, the brain will send signals to wake the patient slightly so that breathing is resumed. The constant cycle of breathing cessation and slight wakefulness prevents a patient from progressing through the different stages of sleep and achieving deep rest. Patients with untreated sleep apnea often experience constant fatigue, memory loss, and irritability.

What causes sleep apnea in childhood?

Sleep apnea among children and teenagers is normally the result of an abnormality of the nasal or oral airways. Common causes include improperly positioned jaws and nasal polyps along with excessive tissue of the tongue, palate, or uvula.

What are symptoms of sleep apnea?

If you are worried a member of your family has sleep apnea, look for signs such as loud snoring, gasping for air, and constant sleepiness. Sleep apnea can negatively affect professional and academic performance, too.

If I suspect a family member has sleep apnea, what should I do?

If you or your children show signs of sleep apnea, you should schedule a sleep study and an appointment with our oral surgeon. The results of the sleep study will determine whether a patient has sleep apnea and an examination with our doctor can help determine the root cause of this condition.

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please contact Dr. Larry Wolford’s office using our online contact form or call 214-828-9115.

Condylar hyperplasia (CH) is a generic term describing enlargement of the condyle.  There are a number of different condylar pathologies that enlarge the mandibular condyle, with subsequent adverse effects on the morphology and function of the TMJ and mandible.  This may result in the development or worsening of a dentofacial deformity such as; mandibular prognathism (symmetric or asymmetric), and unilateral enlargement of the condyle, ramus, and body, facial asymmetry and malocclusion. 

Wolford has developed a simple, but encompassing classification that will allow the clinician to better understand the nature of the various CH pathologies, progression, and treatment options that have proven to eliminate the pathological process and provide optimal functional and esthetic outcomes.  The classification (Table 2 and Figure 29) also begins with the most common occurring form of CH and progresses to the least common occurring form.

CH Type 1:  This condition develops during puberty, is an accelerated and prolonged growth aberration of the normal condylar growth mechanism, is self-limiting but can grow into the 20’s, and can occur bilaterally (CH Type 1A) or unilaterally (CH Type 1B).

CH Type 2:  These condylar pathologies can develop at any age (although 2/3s develop in the 2nd decade), are unilateral condylar vertical and/or horizontal over-growth deformities, and are the most common occurring mandibular condylar tumors; osteochondroma (CH Type 2A) and less common osteoma (CH Type 2B).

CH Type 3:  These are other rare benign causing condylar enlargement. 

CH Type 4:  These are malignant conditions that can cause condylar enlargement.

The more common forms of CH (Types 1 and 2) will be presented relative to the clinical and radiographic findings, growth characteristics, effects on the jaws and facial structures, histology, and treatment considerations that are highly predictable in the elimination of the pathology and provide optimal treatment outcomes. 

FIGURE 29 Description

A-C) normal TMJ with balanced joint spaces.
D-F) CH Type 1 with relatively normal condylar shape, elongated condylar head and neck, and narrow joint space related to thin articular disc or displaced disc.  In the coronal view the condylar head is more rounded.
G-I) CH Type 2Av; an osteochondroma with a vertical growth vector without significant horizontal condylar enlargement or exophytic horizontal growth. This is a “young” osteochondroma with only about 3 years of growth.
J-L) CH Type 2Ah; an osteochondroma with horizontal (as well as vertical) enlargement of the condyle and exophytic outgrowth of the tumor. This tumor has been present for 6 years. Notice the significant increased vertical height of the mandibular body and ramus.

FIGURE 29