boy sleeping in car with mouth open

Mouth-breathing is an abnormal breathing pattern capable of having a serious impact on your child’s health. Chronic mouth-breathing in children may cause problems such as an elongated face, stunted growth and development, behavioral issues, inadequate sleep, and misalignment or crowding of the teeth. Does your child breathe through their mouth? The team at TMJ & Sleep Therapy Centre wants you to know the signs to watch for.

Signs of Mouth-Breathing

Mouth Stays Open — If you notice your child’s mouth stays slightly open naturally, they may have a dental, facial, or airway problem, making breathing through the nose difficult.

Dry Mouth — Breathing through the mouth instead of the noise leads to decreased saliva production, which may cause coughing, hoarseness, and dry, cracked corners of the mouth. The child may complain about problems chewing or swallowing.

Bad Breath — When the mouth is too dry, food debris remains in the mouth too long. Chronic dry mouth may lead to infections causing bad breath. Check for morning breath.

Crowded Teeth — As the shape of the face and oral cavity become narrower because of mouth-breathing, the teeth don’t fit within the space allowed. The narrowing can lead to crowding or overlapping teeth, which make oral hygiene difficult.

Allergic Shiners — Dark shadows under the eyes resembling bruises are called allergic shiners. Untreated sinus problems, which can lead to breathing difficulties, can cause them. Children compensate for the congestion by mouth-breathing.

Enlarged Tonsils — Enlarged tonsils or adenoids may block the upper airway, causing children to breathe through their mouth. Removal of the tonsils or adenoids might be necessary.

Forward Head Position — If a child isn’t breathing properly through their nose, they may hold their head forward to clear the airway so they can breathe. Over time, this can lead to tension headaches and orthopedic issues.

Long, Narrow Face and Palate — When a child is breathing primarily through the mouth, it can affect how the jaw, cheeks, and chin are positioned. As a result, the child may develop craniofacial deformities causing a long, skinny face and a narrow palate.

Causes of Mouth-Breathing

Many times, mouth-breathing is temporary due to congestion caused by allergies or a cold. When the symptoms subside, the child can breathe freely. Chronic mouth-breathers may have a craniofacial irregularity or blockage. Treatment is recommended in these cases.

Children need proper rest to be healthy and to be attentive at school. Mouth-breathing or other forms of sleep-disordered breathing prevents restorative sleep. Lack of restorative sleep makes children susceptible to psychological and physical problems.

If your child is experiencing any of these symptoms, contact our office to schedule an appointment. We serve patients in Granger, Indiana, and the surrounding areas.