Mouth breathing is an all too common habit that can produce far-reaching health problems. Our mouth is designed for eating & speaking, not breathing!
How does mouth breathing affect jaw development?
Apart from the obvious drying of the mouth, which comes with increased risk of tooth decay & gum disease, the actual shape of our jaws will also be influenced in our formative years by this habit.
Children whose mouth breathing is not addressed may develop long, narrow faces, narrow mouths, undesirable facial features, dental crowding and airway issues.
Mouth breathing promotes over- breathing. Over-breathing (hyperventilation) is associated with many poor health outcomes, including tiredness & fatigue, poor concentration, dizziness, asthma, headaches, racing heart, bed-wetting, disturbed sleep and sleep apneoas, to name just a few.
In order to successfully mouth breathe, it is necessary for our tongue to adopt a low rest position in the mouth. In this position, our tongue has little or no influence on shaping the upper jaw in the “U” shape that we know is necessary for a proper bite, and to prevent crowding.
The tongue’s natural rest position is on the roof of the mouth. Try mouth breathing with your tongue up there!
For some people with specific ENT issues, it is necessary to mouth breathe until those issues are resolved. For others, it may have been necessary to mouth breathe during a period of congestion(eg a bad cold), and a habit formed.
In this instance, they now don’t need to mouth-breathe, it has simply become habitual.
Early detection and treatment of mouth breathing can change a child’s facial development, oxygen saturation to brain and muscles, and general quality of life.
Often, children who mouth breathe also snore or have sleep-disordered breathing. Snoring in children is not cute! In fact it can have far-reaching serious health implications.
• Abnormal craniofacial growth
• Behaviourial difficulties
• ADHD-type behaviours
• Learning difficulties
• Peer problems
Regular snoring, noisy breathing, night sweats and even regular bed wetting may indicate that your child has sleep-disordered breathing or sleep apnoea, and should be investigated.
Colleen O’Callaghan is pleased to be associated with Dr Tony Eldridge, of the Hobart Orofacial Pain & Special Needs Clinic.
Dr Eldridge provides detailed assessment & management of childhood snoring & airway issues. In addition to providing expert management in these areas, Dr Eldridge treats patients of all ages with temporo-mandibular joint disorders and tooth grinding habits.
For more information visit www.tmjtreatment.com.au
Why is nasal breathing healthier?
The importance of nasal breathing cannot be overstated. Nasal breathing purifies the air we breathe by removing unwanted bacteria, it warms & moistens the air before it travels to our lungs, and it regulates the volume of air that we breathe, preventing over-breathing.
Making the switch from mouth breathing to nasal breathing needs to be a conscious one and can be challenging. For children & adults alike, the rewards are plentiful.
Contact the clinic today for an assessment and advice on how you can make the switch for better health.