Mouth breathing and its effects

How often do we see kids sleeping with open mouth, trying to breathe through mouth? Kids look really adorable doing that. Most of the parents think its fine if the kid is breathing through mouth because he/she has cold or they must be really tired playing around all day.
It is perfectly natural to breathe through your mouth at certain times, such as when lifting a heavy load or exercising. But breathing through mouth most of the times of day or while sleeping can cause health problems. These problems are especially severe in children because it affects their development of face.

Reasons of mouth breathing

There might be many reasons as to why your child has started breathing with mouth than nose. These reasons may include:

  • Obstruction of the nose due to some allergic reaction, chronic inflammation of nasal mucosa, deviated nasal septum, respiratory infection.
  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Habit due to previous nasal obstructions
  • Short upper lip which doesn’t allow one to get a complete lip seal without effort.
  • Thumb or finger sucking habit
  • Small upper jaw.

Any of the above reasons makes it physically impossible for a person to breathe through nose. If breathing through nose is not possible, the body’s only choice is to mouth breathe.

Effect of mouth breathing on facial appearance

Breathing through mouth can actually change the shape of face and thus change the appearance of one. This is especially true in children because they are still growing. Children suffering with mouth breathing for a long time may have abnormal facial and dental development, which might include:

  • Long and narrow faces and mouths
  • Narrow nose and nasal passage
  • Short and flaccid upper lip
  • An expressionless or blank face
  • Less defined cheek bones
  • Small lower jaws and weak chins
  • Because of smaller jaws tongue thrust is developed. Tongue thrust affects speech, swallowing, breathing and chewing in many ways.
  • Gummy smiles
  • Crooked teeth

A mouth breather facial expression is typically not viewed as an attractive or desirable appearance.

Other effects on body

Most of us bring air into our body through our nose. The nose is designed to act as a natural humidifier and filtering system for the air we breathe. Breathing through the mouth most of the time was not nature’s intent. When this happens, problems can occur.

  • Headaches
  • Respiratory and throat infections
  • Sore throat and cold symptoms
  • Bad breath and higher risk of cavities
  • Gingivitis and gum diseases
  • Poor sleep leading to fatigue
  • Digestive disturbances – gas, upset stomach, acid refluxes, etc.

So besides other habits of your kids, keep a close watch on your kids breathing habit as well. Mouth breathing may seem like an easy habit to break, just close your mouth, right? But unfortunately it’s not.

So breathe right and stay healthy.

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