Sleep Disorders in Children & Adolescents 

Obstructive sleep apnea is when a child briefly stops breathing while sleeping. It happens because of a blockage in the upper airway. This is the passages through the nose and mouth to the windpipe and lungs. The pause in breathing may occur many times in a night, disrupting the child’s sleep.

There are differences between pediatric obstructive sleep apnea and adult sleep apnea. While adults usually have daytime sleepiness, children are more likely to have behavioral problems. The underlying cause in adults is often obesity, while in children the most common underlying condition is underdeveloped jaws, improper tongue positioning and the enlargement of the adenoids and tonsils. 

Early diagnosis and treatment are important to prevent complications that can affect children's growth, cognitive development and behavior.


During sleep, signs and symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea might include:

  • Snoring
  • Pauses in breathing
  • Restless sleep
  • Snorting, coughing or choking
  • Mouth breathing
  • Nighttime sweating
  • Bed-wetting
  • Sleep terrors
  • Teeth Grinding

During the day, children with sleep apnea might:

  • Perform poorly in school
  • Have difficulty paying attention
  • Have learning problems
  • Have behavioral problems
  • Be hyperactive
  • Narrow/Underdeveloped jaw (teeth crowding)
  • Stunted growth
  • Obesity
  • Have poor weight gain

If you observe these symptoms in your child please call to schedule an appointment to explore ways we can help your child. Dr. Gardner will design a personalized plan to help your child.

Treatment of Sleep Disorders using Oral Myofunctional Dentistry in Children's Growth and Development

Proper Childhood growth and development is dependent on a nasal breathing pattern and appropriate tongue strength and function. Many children today are mouth breathers and have some form of tongue dysfunction (i.e. tongue thrust). Treating children and adolescent patients with Myofunctional therapy requires significant additional training, Dr. Gardner and our team have devoted themselves to learning these skills and studying under the leading experts of Myofunctional Therapy in the nation.

Myofunctional therapy (often referred to as “myofunctional orthodontics”) is used to correct mouth breathing, thumb/finger sucking habits, incorrect tongue resting posture, tongue thrust swallowing patterns, sleep disorder breathing, and open mouth rest posture. It can help guide teeth into a more desirable position during a child’s early development (between the ages of 3 and 12) and enhance a child’s appearance and posture (which will last a lifetime).

Our patients have reported life changing effects as a result of Myofunctional Therapy including, improved ability to learn in a school setting, reduced hyperactivity, stopped bed-wetting, deeper more restful sleep, growth, reduced behavioral issues and less dependence on medication for behavior issues.

Myofunctional therapy creates healthier, more beautiful children by focusing on the issues of mouth breathing, incorrect tongue position, and muscle dysfunction to get better, healthier long-term results for the patient. Myofunctional therapy can reduce or eliminate the need for traditional orthodontics and replaces the old practice of extracting permanent teeth by making room for those teeth (allowing them to keep the child to keep them a lifetime). 

The healthiest children breathe through their noses, not their mouths. This is especially true during sleep. Nasal breathing while sleeping is essential for every child’s overall health, growth and development. Research by Dr. Karen Bonuck showed that sleep disordered breathing children were 50% more likely to be diagnosed with and treated for ADD/ADHD. More importantly, sleep disordered breathing children were shown to have decreased IQ scores over time. We recognize that helping mouth breathing children become nose breathers is the single most important health benefit we can offer children.

Oral Myofunctional Dentistry in Children’s Growth and Development

Proper Childhood growth and development is dependent on a nasal breathing pattern and appropriate tongue strength and functions. Many children today are mouth breathers and have some form of tongue dysfunction (i.e. tongue thrust). The results of this are that the upper and lower jaws that do not fully develop. We see this visually in children in the form of collapsed not rounded jaws, excessive crowding and a poor bite. By intervening early with Oral Myofunctional Dentistry we can reestablish a nasal breathing pattern, proper tongue function and expand upper and lower jaws. This will allow for normal, appropriate growth development resulting in the teeth having room to erupt close to where they belong.

Interceptive Orthodontics

Interceptive Orthodontic treatment is any orthopedic / orthodontic treatment performed between the ages of three and 12 years old. It is also referred to as early phase orthodontics or Phase I orthodontics. The primary purpose of Interceptive Orthodontics is to fully develop the middle and lower facial thirds, which provides stable, healthy functions and the best aesthetic results possible.

Developing a proper airway with normal nasal breathing, avoiding surgical procedures and guaranteeing non-extraction orthodontics at a later age, are just three of the many benefits of Interceptive orthodontics.

Eruption Guidance / Myfunctional Appliance Therapy

Eruption Guidance is an orthodontic technique that guides the permanent teeth into position as they are erupting. This technique is kind, simple and comfortable as compared to traditional braces. These appliances are soft, comfortable, and worn for 1 hour per day plus overnight.

If you have any questions in regards to Myofunctional Therapy / Myofunctional Orthodontics or would like to schedule a complementary consultation to determine if your child is suffering from a sleep disorder please contact our office.