BECAUSE BREATHING IS something we all do all the time without really thinking about it, the idea that there are unhealthy ways to do it might take some people by surprise.
Breathing through your mouth rather than your nose can lead to a wide array of health and hygiene problems. It’s important to establish healthy breathing habits early in life, so today we’re going to discuss the effects of mouth-breathing on children, and how you can help your kids break the habit.
Why Is Mouth-Breathing Bad For Kids?
Mouth-breathing can cause all kinds of short-term issues for children, many of which are connected to poor sleep quality from getting insufficient oxygen by breathing through the mouth. If your child is exhibiting the following symptoms, it may be due to mouth-breathing.
- Impaired speech: when a child’s mouth is always open, certain sounds become more difficult to say.
- Halitosis (chronic bad breath): an open mouth tends to be a dry mouth, which means there isn’t enough saliva to clean out the germs.
- Tooth decay: other serious byproducts of dry mouth are tooth decay and cavities.
- Irritability, lethargy, and inattention: less oxygen means worse sleep, which makes it much harder for kids to pay attention in school and to be their bright, happy selves.
Negative Effects Continue Past Childhood
While the above issues are bad enough, the problems that come from mouth-breathing don’t stop there. If left unchecked even as the person grows up, mouth-breathing can cause the following:
- Extended Orthodontic Treatment: braces will take longer and there will be a higher chance of the teeth shifting back to their pre-braces position.
- Altered Facial structure: the bones in the face can actually develop differently because of mouth-breathing, resulting in flatter features, droopy eyes, a narrow jaw, and a smaller chin.
- Sleep apnea: mouth-breathing can increase a person’s risk for sleep apnea, a dangerous sleep disorder that makes it difficult to get a restful night’s sleep.
Mouth-breathing can also potentially lead to other oral health issues such as TMJ:
If It’s So Unhealthy, Why Do Kids (And Adults) Do It?
The habit of mouth-breathing can be caused by many different things. For some kids, it’s simply habit, in which case parents can encourage them to breathe through their noses. For others, mouth-breathing could be the result of a different condition. A misaligned bite that makes it difficult to keep the mouth closed, allergies that clog up the nose, and large tonsils that obstruct the airway are all causes that make mouth-breathing a more complicated matter to fix.
Helping Your Child Breathe Healthy For Life
If your child has a mouth-breathing habit, it often isn’t as simple to break as telling them to stop. When it’s caused by one of the problems listed above, they will need treatment before nose-breathing can become natural (and in some cases, possible). Schedule an appointment with us so that we can determine the cause of the mouth-breathing and what action to take next to encourage healthier breathing.
We love to see our patients healthy and happy!
Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.