Pediatric obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is common; upper airway obstruction as a result of lymphoid tissue hypertrophy or skeletal restriction in a growing child may promote mouth breathing, impair normal craniofacial growth and development, reducing pharyngeal airway size, and promoting sleep-disordered breathing. Although the causative relationship between altered mode of breathing and pediatric sleep-disordered breathing is not clearly understood, the screening, early diagnosis, and interceptive treatment should be encouraged.
Signs of untreated pediatric OSA can include neurocognitive dysfunction such as aggressive behavior, symptoms that resemble attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, deteriorating school performance, bedwetting, developmental delay, and reduced quality of life.Adenotonsillectomy and positive airway pressure (PAP) have been classically proposed as the primary treatment modalities for pediatric OSA. Current research has focused on emerging dental treatment options for pediatric OSA, such as maxillary expansion, oral appliances, and distraction osteogenesis.
Dentists play critical roles in screening and referral of children with symptoms of OSA; the dentist’s role has recently evolved to include participation through a multidisciplinary approach in the management of children with OSA. This presentation will review the etiology, epidemiology, and treatment options of pediatric OSA and will emphasize the dentist’s role in screening and treating pediatric OSA within a multidisciplinary approach between pediatric sleep physician and dental clinician to optimize patient treatment outcomes.
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