Breathing through the mouth only becomes necessary when you have nasal congestion due to allergies or a cold. It also happens when you are exercising strenuously, as mouth breathing can help get oxygen to your muscles faster.
In children, mouth breathing can cause crooked or crowding of teeth, facial deformities, or poor growth.
For parents, it’s important to look for signs of mouth breathing in their children.
Children who breathe through their mouths for most of the day may also have the following symptoms:
- Slower than normal growth rate
- Increased crying episodes at night
- Large tonsils
- Dry, cracked lips
- Problem concentrating at school
- Daytime sleepiness (sometimes misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder or hyperactivity)
In children, mouth breathing can lead to physical abnormalities and cognitive challenges. Children who
aren’t treated for mouth breathing can develop:
- Long, narrow faces
- Narrow mouths
- Gummy smiles
- Dental abnormalities like deep overbite and crowded teeth
- Poor posture
Untreated mouth breathing can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Poor sleep caused by mouth breathing can also reduce the quality of life and create stress.
How is mouth breathing in children treated?
In children, surgical removal of swollen tonsils and adenoids can treat mouth breathing. A dentist may recommend them to wear a removable appliance designed to widen the palate and help open sinuses and nasal passages. Orthodontic treatments like braces might also help treat the underlying cause of mouth breathing.
Treating mouth breathing in children early can prevent or reduce the negative effect on facial and dental development.
Children who have undergone surgery or other interventions to reduce mouth breathing show improvement in their behavior, academic performance and growth.
- Orthodontics in Obstructive Sleep Apnea Patients: A Guide to Diagnosis, Treatment Planning and Interventions by Drs.Su-Jung Kim and Ki Beom Kim
- Articles in Healthline by James Keith Fisher, MD
About The Writer
DR. JOYCELYN FRANCES ESGUERRA, Dentist
Dr. is the dental and oral healthcare expert of Wyeth Nutrition parenTeam. Having run a private clinic for more than 20 years now, Dr. Joycelyn Esguerra has developed an expertise in orthodontics, TMJ orthopedics, cosmetic dentistry, and biological dentistry. As a dentist, her work has included educating patients on oral care, assessing teeth and diagnosing patients' dental conditions, evaluating treatment options and providing treatment plans to patients, and carrying out clinical treatments such as restoring teeth affected by decay and treating gum disease.
Dr. Esguerra received her degree of Doctor of Dental of Medicine from the College of Dentistry at the University of the East in Manila. She also completed a 6-month long comprehensive preceptorship program on Functional Jaw Orthopedics and TMJ Dentistry at the TMJ Integrative Dentistry Academy of the Philippines.
An active member of the medical community, she has served the Mandaluyong City Dental Chapter in various roles, including President, Executive Vice President, and Board of Director. Dr. Esguerra is also part of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) and the TMJ Integrative Academy of the Philippines.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.