The mouth breathing game

Since this topic popped in my head I started checking on people’s lips position as I have never had done before (it doesn’t apply for nights out!), especially with kids in the dental practice. It is amazing how many negative implications this causes in kids’ and adults’ lives, and I want to take action and investigate it.

What is the normal way of breathing?

Most people naturally breathe through their noses almost all the time. Humans evolved this way as a survival technique – it keeps our breaths going as we eat with our mouths so we don’t choke.

Some people develop mouth breathing later in life or are born as mouth breathers due to their body’s structural makeup. In both cases they can be doing this completely unconsciously.

What are the signs of mouth breathing?

  • Snoring loudly or grinding teeth during sleep
  • Feeling tired during the day
  • Sleeping with the mouth open
  • Having problems with behavior or concentration in school
  • Wetting the bed after 6 years of age

Why is mouth breathing a problem?

Breathing through the nose is important for health. Air that passes through the nasal passages is filtered to remove some toxins. It enters the lungs at the optimal pressure to extract oxygen and release nitric oxide, which helps with circulation.

If you breathe through your mouth, fewer toxins are being filtered and circulation can be impaired, which reduces the transfer of oxygen around the body.

Consequences of mouth breathing:

1. Oral health problems

Mouth breathing dries out the mouth. This can reduce saliva, which means bacteria and leftover food can spend longer on the teeth, increasing the risk of developing problems such as tooth cavities and gum diseases.

2. General health problems

Passed out man drooling in bed.
  • High blood pressure (hypertension) and poor circulation increase the risk of heart problems.
  • Asthma and allergies can get worse: air breathed through the mouth can also contain more toxins and allergens
  • Other problems such as poor oral health and sleep disorders

3. Teeth alignment problems

Regular mouth breathing in childhood can affect the development of the jaws, often resulting in a high and narrow palate. This can lead to crowding when there isn’t enough space for all the teeth. This pressure can cause teeth to protrude or become crooked.

Mouth breathing that lasts into adolescence can also affect the time and success of a braces treatment making relapse more likely if the problem isn’t resolved.

4. Facial development

Children whose mouth breathing isn’t treated early may develop a long, narrow face with a small lower jaw and chin.

This can usually be avoided if mouth breathing is corrected before the age of 7,

5. Speech problems

The forward-thrusting of the tongue caused by mouth breathing can affect children’s speech, typically by developing a lisp. This may be corrected if mouth breathing is treated and the tongue can be encouraged to rest on the palate.

6. Sleep disorders

Mouth breathing can also contribute to snoring and obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA), which can disturb children’s sleep and prevent them from feeling fully rested during the day.

As well as causing tiredness and fatigue, sleep disturbances can also impair concentration and memory and affect behavior, personality, and mood. This can affect children’s academic and social development and has been known to lead to the misdiagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Mouth Breathing vs. Nose Breathing

Experts agree that breathing through your nose has many more benefits than mouth breathing. Our noses process air differently than our mouths do. These differences are our body’s way of keeping us safe and healthy. When you breathe in through your nose, it:

  • Controls temperature
  • Filters toxins
  • Humidifies
  • Senses smell

A right approach to mouth breathers in dentistry hasn’t been a well-explored area yet. It takes several appointments (ideally weekly) and follow-ups to re-educate or re-pattern the facial muscles. With special exercises and behavior modification techniques to:

  • promote proper tongue position
  • increase tongue and jaw range of motion
  • correct oral breathing
  • improve breathing, chewing and swallowing.

This treatment is best known as Myofunctional therapy.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your child, or anything else that concerns you, make an appointment to see a dentist or other health professional to schedule an assessment, and discuss possible treatments.

Before bringing the curtain down…

For those interested in what is going on in the space – a Lunar eclipse occurred just a few days back! ( on the 16th of May to be more precise) this happens when the sun and moon are exactly opposite each other in our sky.  I was excited to see it but sadly we had a clouds party in the wonderful London skies, however, seeing this video instead made me feel very content about it. When I get to have a telescope I will share all my cool shoots with you guys 🙂 For now, sit and enjoy this amazing video 🙂 Hasta pronto!

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