Home / My Blog / Is Your Child A Mouth Breather?

Being called a “mouth breather” is usually seen as an insult but in medical terms, a mouth breather is simply someone who breathes through their mouth. Unfortunately, mouth breathing is a dysfunctional breathing pattern that can have a range of negative consequences for our overall health, and that’s what we should be paying attention to.

is your child a mouth breather?

Mouth Breathing In Children

Being a mouth breather is particularly problematic in children. This is because breathing through the mouth can dramatically change facial development and can lead to some serious health problems.

This study titled Mouth breathing: adverse effects on facial growth, health, academics, and behavior makes the consequences of a mouth breathing habit very clear: 

“The vast majority of health care professionals are unaware of the negative impact of upper airway obstruction (mouth breathing) on normal facial growth and physiologic health.

Children whose mouth breathing is untreated may develop long, narrow faces, narrow mouths, high palatal vaults, dental malocclusion, gummy smiles, and many other unattractive facial features, such as skeletal Class II or Class III facial profiles.

These children do not sleep well at night due to obstructed airways; this lack of sleep can adversely affect their growth and academic performance.

Many of these children are misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity.

It is important for the entire health care community (including general and pediatric dentists) to screen and diagnose for mouth breathing in adults and in children as young as 5 years of age. If mouth breathing is treated early, its negative effect on facial and dental development and the medical and social problems associated with it can be reduced or averted.”

I realized something about the patients in my myofunctional therapy practice a long time ago. The children who breathe through their mouth grow up to be the adults who have oral myofunctional disorders. This means they have all the related symptoms such as sleep apnea and sleep disordered breathing, TMJ pain, headaches, and digestive disturbances to name a few.

In my adult patients, I’m helping to correct these conditions and symptoms. But when I work with children, I’m helping to prevent them.

Early Intervention Is Vital!

I love what the study I posted above said about early intervention.

If doctors and dentists, and the entire health care community for that matter, started to screen young children for the signs and symptoms of mouth breathing, we’d be able to reduce or even prevent the life-long consequences of less than optimal facial development.

As I pointed out in this video from my YouTube channel, I was a child who grew up breathing through my mouth. I’ve had to deal with my own oral myofunctional issues. Thanks to discovering myofunctional therapy in my early 20’s, I’ve been able to address these issues to a large degree.

But if my parents had known that mouth breathing wasn’t natural, and I’d been able to switch from mouth breathing to nasal breathing while I was still a child, well, I wouldn’t have had any oral myofunctional issues at all.

As long as the mouth is open and the tongue is resting low, a child’s facial development will not be as good as it could be. A long, narrow facial structure with a narrow palate usually equates to a narrow airway, which is one of the leading causes of obstructive sleep apnea.

That’s why it’s so important for parents to pay close attention to their kids’ oral resting posture, both during the day and at night. If you’d consider your child to be a mouth breather, or if their mouth is open even a tiny bit, it’s worth getting an assessment from a myofunctional therapist. That decision could make all the difference.

 
 

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