Children who mouth-breathe are more prone to enlarged adenoids/tonsils, glue ear, respiratory infections, asthma, allergies and chronic cough.
If this habit is not corrected, it can lead to crooked teeth, receding chin, protruding nose, narrow airway and a high risk of developing obstructive sleep apnoea, respiratory disorders and cardiovascular risk as adults.
Signs and symptoms of mouth breathing may include:
° Open-mouth posture, especially while sleeping
°Increasingly long and narrow face (long face syndrome)
°Gums show when smiling
°Bad breath (halitosis)
°Dark circles under the eyes “allergic shiners”
°Snoring or audible breathing during sleep
°Sleep apnea (breathing stops for short intervals)
°Frequent respiratory infections (colds, ear infections, sinusitis)
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Dental problems resulting from uncorrected open-mouth breathing may include:
°narrow dental arches
Virtually all my adult clients with sleep apnoea confirm they were mouth breathers in childhood and many of these will have had teeth extracted in their teens.
Early intervention for children with establishment of good breathing habits can help avoid more invasive dental treatments such as teeth extraction and braces in their teens.
Mouth breathing – tongue position and facial development:
°The teeth sit in a neutral position between the cheeks and the tongue.
°During nasal breathing the tongue rests in the roof of the mouth. The tongue exerts outward pressure ensuring wide dental arches and straight teeth. Lips and cheeks provide a counter force to the tongue.
°During mouth breathing the tongue drops to the floor of the mouth and the cheeks then exert force on the teeth causing constriction of the maxilla resulting in a narrow crowded jaw and crooked teeth.
Many dentists now recommend early intervention to avoid these and more serious disorders like obstructive sleep apnoea.
Breathing re-training is an essential part of the treatment plan.
As Nic Anderson of Alpers dental says, "If the ingrained habit of mouth breathing is not corrected all orthodontic treatments will relapse."