Discover the signs, symptoms, and effects that mouth breathing can have on your child’s long-term health.
Breathing through the mouth on a regular basis is a sign of physiological imbalance, and a warning for more serious health problems to come. Chronic mouth breathing does have treatment options, and it’s important to remember that the sooner you catch it, the less you or your child will suffer.
What causes mouth breathing and what effects does it have?
While there is no singular cause of mouth breathing, there is one constant: the longer it’s done, the more habitual and harmful it becomes. It’s important to recognize this early to limit suffering and permanent health ramifications.
Children can develop a mouth breathing habit for several reasons, including allergies, blocked nasal passages, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, asthma, chronic stress, and more. Environmental factors can also contribute to mouth breathing, such as improper oral developments from prolonged sippy cup use, or habits like extensive thumb-sucking or pacifier use. Those habits can train the jaw muscles to pull backwards, creating an open-mouth resting position that naturally leads to excessive mouth breathing.
Mouth breathing causes dental issues and chronic allergy symptoms, but also can have a dramatic impact on the quality of the child’s sleep. Sleep is paramount in the development of a child, and without quality sleep, children can develop behavioral or academic challenges as a result.
What are the other adverse effects of chronic mouth breathing?
- Bad breath, dental decay, or gum disease
- Crowded or crooked teeth
- Chapped and dry lips
- Snoring or sleep apnea
- Imbalances of the muscles around the jaw and lips
- Improper tongue positioning and oral development
- Lisping and other speech problems
- Narrowing of the dental arch, jaw, and palate
What can you do about it?
Myofunctional therapy is a great first step to correcting mouth breathing. The methods and exercises are safe and gentle for even young children, working to re-train the brain to breathe correctly even subconscious. Orofacial myologists provide myofunctional therapy by identifying the cause of the imbalance, then developing a treatment plans and specific exercises that address each patient’s unique concerns.
The biggest factor in successfully correcting mouth breathing is to start early. Learn to recognize the signs, both in yourself and in your family, especially in young children. These issues are self-reinforcing, meaning the longer you wait on getting treatment, the harder it becomes to correct. Don’t hesitate to contact a myofunctional therapist for a full evaluation to get started on the road to wellness.