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Mouth Breathing isn't that big of deal...... or is it???

Do you know that mouth breathing can affect your child's facial growth? The muscles of mouth-breathing children are often tighter, and this can affect the symmetry of the face as well. Mouth breathing also causes changes to the bone structure of the face, which can affect the shape of the face in later years.

open mouth and parted lips
child with open mouth

Mouth Breathing Explained

Mouth breathing, also known as chronic nasal obstruction is defined by the position of the lips when at rest. Anytime a child is taking in air through the mouth, except when speaking or eating, the lips should be sealed with the tongue slightly suctioned to the palate. If a child's mouth is open or even if lips are slightly parted, they are mouth breathing! Because the lower jaw is too small for the tongue to fit inside comfortably, the air must pass through the narrow space in the mouth between the upper and lower teeth. In other words, the mouth is always open in mouth breathing even when a person is not speaking. This constant airflow through the mouth can result in a dry mouth, which can lead to tooth decay.

Mouth breathing is often caused by enlarged adenoids and/or tonsils, which are soft tissue masses found in the back of the nose behind the palate of the mouth. Enlarged adenoids can block the airway and cause mouth breathing in children, while in adults, it can be caused by allergies and sinus problems. Other causes of mouth breathing include lip, tongue, and palate abnormalities, prolonged use of pacifier, forward head posture, and obesity.

Mouth breathing can have an adverse effect on the dentofacial growth of the face and mouth over time. When children breathe through their mouths chronically, they can develop an open bite because the teeth do not touch when the mouth is closed. An open bite can lead to wear patterns and tooth grinding that may damage the teeth. Chronic mouth breathing can also affect the development of the jaw and lead to malocclusions, such as an overbite or underbite. The jaws of children with mouth breathing often grow in a forward and downward direction rather than outward. This can lead to a narrow upper arch, crowding of the lower teeth, speech issues and/or feeding issues.

Treatment Options for Mouth Breathing

Treatment for mouth breathing may include myofunctional therapy and/or orthodontic treatments to correct any misalignments or bite problems that can contribute to mouth breathing.

Myofunctional therapy is a noninvasive procedure that treats the causes of mouth breathing and malocclusions to help correct the oral habits that create these ailments. Myofunctional therapy will train the tongue to work correctly with the jaw while correcting any misalignments. This will help patients breathe through their nose instead of their mouth. Many patients see significant improvements in their overall health after undergoing myofunctional therapy.

All therapists at Grow Me Myo have completed training in myofunctional therapy from an approved course provider. If you have questions or concerns about mouth breathing, myfocuntional therapy, feeding therapy or speech therapy contact us at 423-724-7759!

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