J Korean Acad Pediatr Dent.  2022 Nov;49(4):357-367. 10.5933/JKAPD.2022.49.4.357.

Sleep Disordered Breathing in Children

  • 1Department of Pediatric Dentistry and Institute of Oral Bioscience, School of Dentistry, Jeonbuk National University, Jeonju, Republic of Korea


Sleep disordered breathing (SDB) is a disease characterized by repeated hypopnea and apnea during sleep due to complete or partial obstruction of upper airway. The prevalence of pediatric SDB is approximately 12 - 15%, and the most common age group is preschool children aged 3 - 5 years. Children show more varied presentations, from snoring and frequent arousals to enuresis and hyperactivity. The main cause of pediatric SDB is obstruction of the upper airway related to enlarged tonsils and adenoids. If SDB is left untreated, it can cause complications such as learning difficulties, cognitive impairment, behavioral problems, cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome, and poor growth. Pediatric dentists are in a special position to identify children at risk for SDB. Pediatric dentists recognize clinical features related to SDB, and they should screen for SDB by using the pediatric sleep questionnaire (PSQ), lateral cephalometry radiograph, and portable sleep monitoring test and refer to sleep specialists. As a therapeutic approach, maxillary arch expansion treatment, mandible advancement device, and lingual frenectomy can be performed. Pediatric dentists should recognize that prolonged mouth breathing, lower tongue posture, and ankyloglossia can cause abnormal facial skeletal growth patterns and sleep problems. Pediatric dentists should be able to prevent these problems through early intervention.


Sleep disordered breathing; Pediatric dentist; Ankyloglossia
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