Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry

Is Mouth Breathing In Kids a Big Deal?

Is Mouth Breathing In Kids a Big Deal?

Reviewed by Dr. Henry Martinez, DMD

📖 Reading time: 4 minutes.

Mouth breathing in kids can be a significant concern, as it may indicate underlying health issues such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or allergies

Persistent mouth breathing can also lead to dental and facial development problems, highlighting the importance of addressing this habit early.

In this blog, we’ll explore the reasons why mouth breathing can be harmful, how to identify it, and steps to encourage nasal breathing in children.

Why is Mouth Breathing a Problem?

Mouth breathing may seem harmless, but it can lead to several health issues:

  • Dry mouth: Constant mouth breathing can dry out the mouth, reducing saliva production. Saliva is crucial for neutralizing acids and protecting from tooth decay.
  • Facial development: Long-term mouth breathing can impact jaw and facial development, leading to what is commonly referred to as “mouth breather face.”
  • Sleep disorder: Children who breathe through their mouths often experience restless sleep or sleep apnea, impairing their daytime focus and energy.

Value of Nasal Breathing

Nasal breathing has several advantages over mouth breathing, including:

  • Improved oxygen intake: The nasal passage warms and filters the air we breathe, making it easier for our lungs to absorb oxygen.
  • Release of nitric oxide: Nasal breathing releases nitric oxide, which helps widen blood vessels and improve overall circulation.
  • Better brain function: Breathing through the nose stimulates the vagus nerve, promoting relaxation and improved cognitive function.
  • Boosts immune system: Nasal hairs trap bacteria and viruses before they can enter our bodies, keeping us healthier.
  • Better sleep quality: Nasal breathing can improve sleep quality, leading to better overall health and well-being.

Symptoms of Mouth Breathing

It’s essential to identify mouth breathing in children early on. Some common signs of mouth breathing include:

  • Open mouth posture: Children who habitually breathe through their mouths tend to keep their mouths open even when not speaking or eating.
  • Snoring: Snoring is a common sign of mouth breathing.
  • Dry or cracked lips: Due to a lack of saliva, children who breathe through their mouths often have dry or cracked lips.

What Causes Mouth Breathing?

Several factors can lead to mouth breathing in kids, including:

  • Allergies or stuffy nose: Allergies can block the nasal passage, making it difficult for a child to breathe through their nose.
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids: swollen tonsils or adenoids can obstruct the airway, forcing a child to breathe through their mouth.
  • Chronic sinus infections: Recurrent sinus infections can result in persistent nasal congestion.
  • Habits: Some children develop a habit of mouth breathing, even in the absence of physical obstructions.

How to Stop Mouth Breathing

Helping a child transition from mouth breathing to nose breathing requires patience and consistency. Here are steps to encourage healthier breathing habits:

  1. Consult a medical professional: Before correcting mouth breathing, consult a pediatric dentist to identify any underlying causes.
  2. Nasal hygiene: Regularly cleaning the nasal passage can help keep it clear.
  3. Breathing exercises: Teaching your child simple breathing exercises can encourage nasal breathing. Practice makes perfect.
  4. Allergy management: If allergies are causing nasal congestion, consult with an allergist to find a suitable solution.

Breathing Exercises To Stop Mouth Breathing

Inflate a balloon: Let the child cover the opening of a balloon with their mouth. Ask them to take a deep breath with their nose and exhale from their mouth to inflate the balloon as much as possible. Repeat 5 times. 

Belly breathing: Encourage your child to sit up straight with their mouth closed and jaw relaxed. Ask them to inhale through their nose. Their hands should be on the chest and the belly. While inhaling the chest should stay still. Repeat for 5 to 10 minutes.

Encourage Proper Breathing Habits

  • Create a bedtime routine: Encourage nasal breathing at night by ensuring your child’s room is allergen-free and their nose is clear before sleep. Try using a humidifier to keep the air moist.
  • Monitor sleeping position: Encourage your child to sleep on their back or side rather than on their stomach. This can help keep the airway open and promote nasal breathing.
  • Stay hydrated: Keeping your child well-hydrated can prevent dryness in the mouth and throat, making it more comfortable for them to breathe through their nose.
  • Seek orthodontic evaluation: In some cases, orthodontic treatment might be necessary to correct structural issues that contribute to mouth breathing.

Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry – Your Kids Dentist in Phoenix, AZ

Mouth breathing in kids can have profound effects on their dental health, leading to a range of issues from gum disease to misaligned teeth. Dr. Henry Martinez at Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry specializes in identifying and treating the dental impacts of mouth breathing.

If your child is a mouth breather, and you are concerned about the negative effects, schedule an appointment with us. Call (602) 935-7427 or complete the online booking form.

If you are searching for the ‘top pediatric dentist near me,’ contact Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry today.

Stay tuned to our next blog “Are Enlarged Tonsils Affecting Your Child’s Dental Health?”

Mouth Breathing FAQs

Is it Normal for a Child to Breathe Through Their Mouth?

Occasional mouth breathing due to cold or nasal congestion is normal. However, chronic mouth breathing is a concern that should be addressed.

Can Mouth Breathing Face Be Reversed in Kids?

With early intervention, many of the effects of mouth breathing, including some facial development issues, can be improved or reversed, especially with the help of orthodontic treatment.

How Do You Stop a Child from Mouth Breathing?

Stopping a child from mouth breathing involves identifying and treating the underlying cause, whether it’s allergies, enlarged tonsils, or habit. Consultation with a pediatric dentist is a crucial first step.

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