Mouth breathing is so looked down upon that it’s often used as an insult. That’s unfortunate, because mouth breathing is not a choice or a moral failing—people who breathe through their mouths can’t help it! It may come as a surprise to you to learn that airway orthodontic treatment can help reshape the mouth and airway so children can comfortably breathe through their noses. Here’s why that’s so important.
Kids Who Mouth Breathe Are Sicker
Our bodies are designed to breathe through the nose—air that comes through the nose is filtered by the nasal passages, which provide defense against viruses, bacteria, fungus, and spores. Noses warm and humidify the air we breathe, which benefits our respiratory health. The nose also produces nitric oxide, which supports immunity and cardiovascular health. In other words, mouth breathing introduces more potential pathogens to the body, while simultaneously lowering its natural defenses.
Kids Who Mouth Breathe Have More Oral Health Issues
When you’re congested because of allergies or a cold and wake up in the morning, you’re likely to have dry mouth and bad breath. Kids who breathe through their mouths experience this every single day. Having bad breath can affect a child’s self-esteem, and dry mouth creates the perfect environment for tooth decay and gum disease.
Breathing Through the Mouth Can Cause Sleep Apnea and Snoring
Sleep apnea isn’t a health condition we often associate with children, but it’s common in children who breathe through their mouths. A child with sleep apnea may be jolted out of a deep sleep dozens or even hundreds of times each night when their breathing pauses; they’re unlikely to remember waking up, but they experience persistent tiredness and never feel well-rested. Often, children who have sleep disturbances related to mouth breathing have dark circles under their eyes and there’s a growing body of research indicating that these sleep disturbances may even impact growth, since growth hormone is released during sleep.
Mouth Breathing Is Linked to Behavioral Problems
Kids who breathe through their mouths are also more likely to have behavioral problems. This may be because they are chronically sleep deprived. Mood disorders, hyperactivity, difficulty concentrating in school, aggression, and irritability are all linked to mouth breathing.
Mouth Breathing Changes Facial Appearance
If mouth breathing is left uncorrected, it will change your child’s growth and development patterns, impacting their appearance. People who mouth breathe typically have flatter facial features, droopy eyes, a smaller chin, and a narrow jaw.
Kids Can Stop Mouth Breathing and Be Healthier and Happier!
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, no child makes a choice to start mouth breathing, but kids can make the decision to stop—with a little help from their parents and an integrative orthodontist!
Sometimes, mouth breathing is simply a bad habit. Pointing it out and giving a child reminders to breathe through their nose may be all that’s needed to correct the habit, but there are also exercises and orthodontic devices that can help retrain proper tongue position and breathing. If your child’s mouth breathing is due to allergies or large tonsils, these can be remedied through medical treatment. Mouth breathing may also be caused by a misaligned bite or small palate, which can be corrected with orthodontics.