In the early days of parenthood, many parents struggle to get through their days because their babies aren’t sleeping well at night.
It’s not unusual for babies to have broken sleep, particularly in the first year. But most children settle into a routine and start sleeping through the night.
But what about when your child doesn’t? What if your preschooler is still waking through the night?
Sleep problems and preschoolers’ health
There are many reasons why preschoolers don’t sleep through. It can be a passing phase, sometimes triggered by changes in the family or their routines.
But if it persists it can also affect your child’s health and development.
Children need to get enough rest so their bodies can grow and develop and they have the energy to play and learn.
Your child’s dentist may pick up this problem on a dental checkup. It’s not just teeth which the dentist checks.
Oral health and sleep issues in young children
Dr Jason Bishop, from National Dental Care Shepparton, Victoria, explains why dentists sometimes pick up sleeping problems in young children.
“I have some patients as young as three whose parents bring them in for a checkup,” says Dr Jason.
“On examination, we find they have a problem with their breathing. When children have obstructions in their nasal passage, they breathe through their mouth.’’
“This can change the way their tongue naturally sits in their mouth. It can create longer-term oral health issues as well as more serious ramifications. Children who can’t breathe properly can have developmental issues.”
“Sometimes a referral to a specialist Ear, Nose and Throat Doctor may also be required,” he explains.
Treat oral problems early
Dr Jason completed a Masters in Sleep Science at the University of Sydney. Dentists are often the first to notice issues in the mouth and throat which can affect sleep in both children and adults.
“I find this rewarding because picking up something like that early in life means you can diagnose and treat it,” he says.
“That child can go on to lead a better life.”