Mouth breathing negatively affects children's smile, teeth, face and airways
Allergy led to mouth breathing and poor facial development
Braces and pulling teeth will not solve the underlying problem
- 1. Breathing should be in and out through the nose.
- 2. At rest, the mouth should be closed with the lips together.
- 3. The tongue should rest against the palate.
- 4. Only the tongue should be active when swallowing.
- 5. Posture should be erect.
The sooner nasal breathing is established, the better
The bone in the upper jaw (maxilla) gives the face its form
The tongue affects the shape of the maxilla
The tongue and lips affect the position of the teeth
What can I do for my children?
- Improve your own breathing. Since children tend to do as we do, not as we say, you can inspire your child by following the advices below to establishing good breathing habits for yourself.
- Inform. Help your children become more aware of their breathing in different situations. Encourage them to pay attention to the five important factors listed above – keeping their mouth closed and breathing through their nose as often as possible, resting their tongue up against the palate, swallowing in a relaxed manner, and maintaining an upright posture.
- Tape their mouths at night. Tape your children’s mouth with Sleep Tape. It is important this is done without coercion, as the aim is to lower their stress, not increase it. Try to make your child curious and keep the whole thing playful. For example, you could tape up your mouths at the same time. Let them try it for a bit before going to bed, to get used to it. I do not recommend taping the mouths of children under the age of five. Read about 13-year-old Lisas experience – Lower jaw is back in place and no braces needed thanks to the Sleep Tape. Please note! All mouth taping at night is done at your own risk.
- Prolong exhalation. Exhalation is linked to relaxation and recovery, which is very important in today’s stressful society. Improved exhalation usually leads to improved inhalation. Using the Relaxator Breathing Retrainer helps you inhale a lower (not bigger) breath and prolongs the exhalation, promoting a more rhythmical breathing pattern. It is an excellent way to improve breathing, especially when in front of the computer, TV, doing homework, etc. The Relaxator is not recommended for use by children under the age of five.
- Reduce the amount of foods that constrict the airways. Foods that lead to increased phlegm production result in more constricted airways, which can cause throat clearing or a runny nose. Wheat, dairy products, candy, ice cream, cookies, and refined carbohydrates, such as pasta, are examples of products that could cause increased phlegm production.
- Inspire the children to chew the food. The muscles in our jaw are very powerful and they need to be used or else they will be under stimulated. When we chew we stimulate the jaw (and also the other 28 skeletal bones in the cranium). We also release enzymes that facilitate digestion and improve nutrient uptake. A lot of the food we eat today is too easy to chew and/or we eat too fast to keep up with our busy schedule. This makes our jaw under stimulated which can lead to poor nutrient uptake and grinding teeth while sleeping. So inspire your children to eat slow, chew the food and eat food that exercises the jaw, for example vegetables.
- Cut off the tongue frenum. Between 5-10 precent of all children are born with a tongue cord that is too short, also called tongue tie. When the movement of the tongue is restricted it cannot rest in the roof of the mouth as it is supposed to. This has a negative impact on breathing and swallowing and consequently the development of the teeth and face. A newborn may have problems breast feeding and get stomach pain because it swallows too much air when eating. As the child grows older speech problems may occur. To cut the tongue tie is a quick procedure. Is it cut by a scissor or by using laser. No anesthesia is needed.
- Physical activity with a closed mouth. If your children spend a lot of time in front of a computer or TV, encourage them to participate in physical activities with their mouths closed. Children who already participate in high intensity activities like football or basketball, may play with an open mouth, which can become a habit also outside of the training arena. Try to stimulate them to exercise with a closed mouth as often as possible. Helping them shift into the habit of nasal breathing usually goes faster than you would think.
- Improve the posture. Make your child aware of their posture when sitting, walking, running, eating, reading, studying, watching TV, sitting in front of the computer, playing video games, using the mobile phone etc. A great (and fun) exercise to improve the posture is to fill a half a saucepan with water and then put it on the head and a) walk around with it for one minute and b) sit down and rise up from a chair ten times, without spilling out the water.
- Avoid bottle feeding over breast feeding. It is easier to get liquid from a bottle compared to the breast. The flow from the bottle is faster and doesn’t require the baby to hold steady to be able to suck. With a bottle the child can eat and then abort in order to breathe through the mouth in a much easier way compared to the breast, which require a constant sucking. If a child refuses to breast feed there is a great chance that they have a blocked nose.
- Avoid pacifier and thumb sucking. Although at first sight, a pacifier or sucking the thumb might seem like a good idea since the mouth is closed and the breathing occurs in and out through the nose. It is indeed true, but the negative impact overrides the positive. The tongues is forced back and doesn’t rest up in the palate as it is supposed to, instead the pacifier or the thumb takes its place. This establishes erroneous sucking- and swallowing reflexes. When the child wants comfort with a pacifier or by sucking the thumb try instead to get him or her to close the mouth and let the tongue rest in the roof of the mouth. This stimuli of the palate, with the tongue, makes the child feel safe.
- Expanding the upper jaw. The width and length of the upper jaw can be changed at any age, and you can accomplish this by using a so-called expander, which is fitted and placed in the palate by an orthodontist. A slow expansion over a six to eight month period is preferable to a fast expansion over a two to three month period, as the latter runs the risk of regression. Be sure to research the available options if you decide to see an orthodontist about this. Crooked teeth are a symptom, not a cause, so it is not just about straightening them out; the specialist should also be able to see and determine the effects of the treatment on the development of the face as a whole. Another option is to use the Myobrace for Kids and Teens™ that can be purchased on the Internet. This is a removable appliance that is placed in your childs mouth during sleep and 1-2 hours during the day. The treatment period is usually 12 months.
Prevent crooked teeth and breathing difficulties in children
What can be done for adults?
For those who want to find out more
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