Overview of Obstructive Sleep Apnea in Children: Exploring the Role of Dentists in Diagnosis and Treatment

May 1, 2009
Among the many factors important in children's development is sleep. Sleep disorders can impair children's sleep and lead to negative consequences. Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which involves blockage of the airway during sleep, can affect development and behaviour; thus, OSA in children should be diagnosed and treated at an early stage. One of the main causes of childhood OSA is enlargement of the tonsil tissues and, in most cases, their removal serves as an ultimate treatment of OSA. However, it remains unclear what proportion of children with enlarged tonsil tissue suffer from OSA. Dentists are becoming increasingly aware of the issue of OSA as they are sometimes involved in treatment of this condition using oral appliances. Moreover, as dentists often look into children's mouths, they can play an active role in identifying those with enlarged tonsils and referring them for sleep assessment.

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