A kid’s habit of breathing through mouth is often ignored. Most of the parents take it lightly, but chronic mouth breathing can have severe effects on facial development and overall health of the kid. In our previous article Mouth Breathing and its effects we have already discussed about the causes and effects of mouth breathing in detail. This article discusses about how to put a stop to this habit.
Mouth breathing may seem like an easy habit to break, just close your mouth while breathing, right?
But unfortunately mouth breathing habit is really difficult to break. During sleep you can’t control the way you are breathing. This is because all of the muscles of the face and the mouth have been programmed to help through mouth.
In order to stop mouth breathing, the muscles must be re-trained to function in new ways.
First approach towards this problem is diagnosing the cause behind mouth breathing through thorough clinical examination and with necessary diagnostic X- Ray and test.
Clinical examination includes:
- Mirror Test – Hold a double sided mirror between nose and mouth. Fogging towards the side of nose indicates nasal breathing while fogging on the mouth side indicates mouth breathing.
- Cotton Test – A butterfly shaped piece of cotton is placed below the nostrils on the upper lip. If the cotton flutters down it indicates nasal breathing.
- Water in mouth test – Ask the patient to fill the mouth with water and hold it in mouth for a period of time. Nasal breathers can do this with ease but mouth breathers find the task difficult.
Various diagnostic x-rays can also be done to detect the cause of mouth breathing. Like lateral cephalogram or other neck region x-rays can be done to detect enlargement of adenoid. OPG or other nasal x-rays can be used to detect nasal septum deviation.
The first part of treatment always includes removal of cause
Any nasal or throat infection or obstruction should be removed by consulting an ENT
If it is due to narrow nasal passage or upper jaw, consult an Orthodontist/dentist. He might help you with expansion of the upper jaw with the help of maxillary expansion removable plates, thus leading to widening of nasal passage.
Use of an oral vestibular screen (mouth guard) given by orthodontist can be used to establish lip seal and thereby helps to reduce mouth breathing.
Orthodontic (braces) treatment is advised to reduced teeth protrusion and thereby to improve lip seal and mouth breathing.
Alternatively adhesive tapes placed on the lips can also be used to establish lip seal
Train yourself to breathe through nose using these steps
- Breathe through nose as often as you can. Make an effort not to open your mouth unless it’s to eat or talk. After doing this for few days it gets easier and easier to breathe through your nose and mouth breathing can actually seem strange.
- Breathe in and out through your nose holding your breath until you feel the urge to breathe. When you feel the urge to breathe, take a breath but make sure its through your nose, keeping your mouth closed.
Consult a Myofunctional therapist (MFT), they help you learn in a healthy way. MFTs are skilled at helping children and adults gain control over muscle patterning habits, including those involved in mouth breathing.
Do not take your kids habit of breathing through mouth lightly. It may have serious consequences on their facial appearance and overall health.