If your child is a habitual mouth breather, he may need help. If left untreated, regularly breathing through the mouth instead of the nose can have serious health repercussions for children 1. According to Dr. Yosh Jefferson in the April 23, 2010 edition of "U.S. News and World Report," mouth breathing in children is far more serious than most people assume 1. Jefferson says that people who breathe through the mouth are "literally dying a slow death that robs them of their appearance, health, longevity and quality of life."
If your child is a mouth breather, she will breathe primarily with her mouth open and her breathing will often sound shallow and raspy 1. She may snore, have dark circles under the eyes, seem sleepy or inattentive and have chronic bad breath.
Croup In Teens
Allergies are the primary cause of mouth breathing 1. Children with chronic or severe congestion may find it difficult to breathe through the nose, and may get in the habit of breathing through the mouth, reports Medical News Today 12.
Mouth breathing can lead to bone abnormalities that alter the shape of your child's face, causing changes in the appearance that may prove difficult to correct 1. If your child is a mouth breather, she may have crooked teeth and a gummy smile. Her face may appear overly long and narrow, and her jaw may visibly protrude.
Growth and Development
A Dry, Pasty Mouth
If your child breathes through her mouth, it may affect her growth and development. Mouth breathing robs the body of oxygen and causes many children to sleep poorly 1. If your child sleeps poorly, her body may not release the growth hormones needed for proper development, and she may appear smaller than average for her age, reports Medical News Today.
Children who breathe through the mouth may encounter difficulties in school. Lack of sleep can lead to poor concentration and difficulty completing tasks, and mouth breathers may be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder or labeled as hyperactive. If your child has problems concentrating in school, check with your doctor about possible health-related issues.
- If your child breathes through her mouth, it may affect her growth and development.
- If your child sleeps poorly, her body may not release the growth hormones needed for proper development, and she may appear smaller than average for her age, reports Medical News Today.
Dr. Steven Y 3. Mouth breathing can also dampen your child's sense of taste and smell, which may lead to suppressed appetite or weight problems 1. Also, mouth breathing may cause the tonsils to swell and become visibly enlarged 1. Over-sized tonsils can obstruct your child's airway, making it even more difficult for her to breathe through the nose.
If your child's mouth breathing is due to allergies, his condition may improve with medication 1. Talk to your child's doctor about the efficacy and possible side-effects of treating mouth breathing with allergy medication 1.
Your doctor may recommend surgery to treat mouth breathing 1. An ear, nose and throat surgeon may choose to remove swollen tonsils and adenoids to help your child breathe through the nose. Dentists can fit your child with appliances designed to widen the palate and open the sinuses and nasal passages.
- If your child's mouth breathing is due to allergies, his condition may improve with medication 1.
- An ear, nose and throat surgeon may choose to remove swollen tonsils and adenoids to help your child breathe through the nose.
If your child consistently breathes through his mouth, take him to a doctor or a dentist for evaluation. Mouth breathing can have serious, lifelong effects and most children will require some form of treatment 1.
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- Sarkissian, DDS: Mouth Breathing
- Medical News Today: Mouth Breathing Can Cause Major Health Problems
- Med Help: Steven Y. Park M.D.: Attention All Mouth Breathers: Five Important Reasons to Breathe Through Your Nose
- American Dental Association (ADA). Xerostomia (Dry Mouth). Department of Scientific Information, ADA Science Institute. Updated July 9, 2019.
- Bartels C. Xerostomia. The Oral Cancer Foundation. Updated October 15, 2018
- Barnhart MK, Robinson RA, Simms VA, et al. Treatment toxicities and their impact on oral intake following non-surgical management for head and neck cancer: a 3-year longitudinal study. Support Care Cancer. 2018;26(7):2341-2351. doi:10.1007/s00520-018-4076-6
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Candida Infections Of The Mouth, Throat, And Esophagus | Fungal Diseases | CDC. National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases (NCEZID), Division of Foodborne, Waterborne, and Environmental Diseases (DFWED). Updated November 13, 2019.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus, & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Xerostomia. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- Rusthen S, Kristoffersen AK, Young A, Galtung HK, Petrovski BÉ, Palm Ø et al. Dysbiotic salivary microbiota in dry mouth and primary Sjögren's syndrome patients. PLoS One. 2019 Jun 18;14(6):e0218319. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218319.
- V Sankar, N Rhodus & the AAOM Web Writing Group. Dry Mouth. The American Academy of Oral Medicine. Updated October 15, 2015.
- American Dental Association. Dry Mouth. Mouth Healthy. Updated January 2019.
- Men K, Geng H, Zhong H, Fan Y, Lin A, Xiao Y. A deep learning model for predicting xerostomia due to radiotherapy for head-and-neck squamous cell carcinoma in the RTOG 0522 clinical trial. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2019 Jun 12. pii: S0360-3016(19)30834-X. doi:10.1016/j.ijrobp.2019.06.009.
- National Institutes of Health. Dry Mouth. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research. Updated January 2019.
Tess Miller has been a freelance writer since 2002. Her work has appeared in "The Front Range Review" and "Memoirs INK." She has worked in the nonprofit sector as a grant writer, fundraiser and literacy advocate. She earned her Bachelor of Arts in health and human services from the University of Massachusetts.