Sleep Apnea in Children: What You Need to Know in McKinney, TX

The Facts & The Statistics

Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition in which breathing repeatedly stops and starts throughout sleep. While a major risk factor for apnea is an increase in age, anyone can have sleep apnea, even infants. Approximately three percent of children have obstructive sleep apnea. Since sleep apnea in children is rare, it’s often undiagnosed, or worse, misdiagnosed.

It’s crucial to understand the causes and symptoms of sleep apnea in children so you can determine if your child would benefit from a sleep study. If they're diagnosed with sleep apnea, we can begin treatment right away.

Causes & Symptoms of Sleep Apnea in Children

The most common causes of sleep apnea in children are enlarged tongue or tonsils, obesity, certain neuromuscular diseases, and craniofacial abnormalities. Sleep apnea occurs for different reasons and the symptoms can affect the quality of life for you and your child. 


In addition to pauses in breathing and gasping for air, your child may experience a variety of symptoms at different ages, including:


Disruptive sleep with repetitive crying

Noisy breathing or snoring

Night sweats

Poor suck

Delayed development

Failure to thrive


Noisy breathing or snoring

Restless sleep

Neck hyperextended during sleep

Night sweats

Mouth breathing

Night terrors

Poor eating

Poor growth

Failure to thrive

Preschool-Aged Children

Regular, loud snoring

Mouth breathing

Restless sleep


Night terrors



Difficulty concentrating

Increased fatigue

Poor eating

Growth problems

School-Aged Children

Regular, loud snoring

Restless sleep


Sleep talking

Teeth grinding

Difficulty waking up in the morning

Morning headache

Poor appetite

Excessive daytime fatigue


Emotional instability

Learning difficulties

Get the Right Diagnosis

When your child isn’t getting quality sleep, they can experience many of the same symptoms that are linked to ADHD such as difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, and behavioral issues. As a result, sleep apnea is often misdiagnosed as ADHD. 

While the medication used to treat ADHD can mask a few of the symptoms, it won’t treat the underlying cause for your child's suffering. There are a variety of long-term health consequences associated with sleep apnea and it’s crucial to ensure your child gets a proper diagnosis so they can enjoy a fulfilling life.

Diagnosing Sleep Apnea in Children

Sleep apnea can be diagnosed with an at-home sleep study or in a lab under the supervision of a physician. Dr. Lawrence can help you determine which study your child would benefit from the most. Once you have a clear diagnosis, we can begin treatment right away.

At SleepRight McKinney, we offer a customized oral appliance that's similar to a mouthguard and worn at night. It works by gently shifting your lower jaw forward and keeps the tongue in a neutral position, thereby helping to prevent the airway from collapsing. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some additional options for treating sleep apnea?

Some people may benefit from certain lifestyle changes that could alleviate their symptoms, such as:

  • Maintaining a healthy weight through regular exercise can help relieve and even eliminate sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Positional Therapy - Training yourself to sleep on your side can reduce snoring and sleep apnea symptoms.
  • Mouth and throat exercises can strengthen your muscles so they’re less likely to contribute to sleep apnea.
  • Surgery - Surgeries to remove excess tissue such as nasal surgery, adenoidectomies, maxillomandibular advancement surgery, and tracheostomies can also be used to treat sleep apnea.

These changes may be easily addressed in adults, however, training your child to sleep on their side, or undergoing surgery to address the issue may be too invasive for a child. An oral appliance may be a simple, long-lasting solution to treat sleep apnea.

Is it easy to adjust to wearing an oral appliance?

Oral appliances shift your jaw forward which may place pressure on your teeth. You may experience some discomfort in the beginning when adjusting to the new appliance, but the benefits are worth it. An appliance is much easier to wear and adjust to than other treatments, such as a CPAP machine.

How will untreated sleep apnea affect my child’s oral health?

Sleep apnea is linked to a variety of oral disorders including bad breath, tooth decay, mouth ulcers, development and progression of periodontal disease (gum disease), and TMJ. If your child has sleep apnea, contact our McKinney office, and we’ll help them on their road to a peaceful night’s sleep.

Does insurance cover an oral device for sleep apnea?

Health insurance typically covers a portion of the expenses. You can contact your provider for specific details on your coverage. You can also contact our office at (972) 542-9129, and we’ll help you get to the bottom of it.

Sleep Apnea Treatment for Your Child

When your child experiences the benefits of a quality night’s sleep, you can too. Contact our office to schedule a consultation with Dr. Lawrence by calling (972) 542-9129, and we’ll help you on your journey to a healthy night’s rest for years to come.