Breathing through your mouth can actually change the shape of your face and alter your appearance. This is especially true for children because they are still growing. Children whose mouth breathing is not corrected may suffer from abnormal facial and dental development. Symptoms of untreated mouth breathing include long, narrow faces and mouths, less-defined cheekbones, small lower jaws, and weak chins. Other facial symptoms include gummy smiles and crooked teeth. A “mouth breather” facial expression is typically not viewed as an attractive or desirable appearance.
Other Effects on the Body
Using the mouth for breathing disrupts our natural body mechanics. The root of the problem in many cases is oxygen deprivation, which can affect a number of bodily functions and lead to symptoms such as:
- Gingivitis and gum disease
- Sore throat & cold symptoms
- Bad breath
- Increased risk of cavities
- Poor sleep leading to chronic fatigue, sleep apnea
- High blood pressure
- Heart problems
- Poor postural changes and spinal issues
- Digestive disturbances – gas, upset stomach, acid reflux, etc.
Concerns in Children:
- Poor growth
- Weak academic performance
- ADD and ADHD symptoms
Health Concerns Associated with Mouth Breathing:
Can you relate with any of these health effects?
A fair amount of the interest I get around myofunctional therapy is based around cosmetic reasons. This is especially true among younger people but it’s something that I see no matter what age group. Many of us have things we’d like to change about our appearance. Oral myofunctional disorders can lead to negative changes in the way we look. One example is that people who mouth breathe can develop longer, narrower faces with flatter facial features. They may have a small lower jaw with a less defined chin or turned down corners of the eyes and mouth.
This is where the 4 Goals of Myofunctional Therapy can make a huge difference in facial growth. By having the lips together, breathing through the nose, correct tongue position, and correct chewing and swallowing the face will be grow and be guided to a healthy and well-developed. Your tongue resting in the roof of the mouth will guide the growth and expansion of your palate, jaw, and airway. Your lips resting together will help the teeth maintain optimal position and be retained. Nasal breathing will allow for the right levels of oxygen to be exchanged in your body. Correct swallowing will keep the negative pressure off of the teeth and will not push them out of alignment. It’s important to learn these habits early! Growth will always be an advantage for children in myofunctional therapy. However, adults can achieve growth and change as well, but it just takes a longer period of time.
Muscle memory and habit are the culprits for Adenoid face. When the mouth is forced to stay open constantly, the facial muscles will develop around that posture. Once they are developed, they will adapt and function improperly to compensate for the open mouth posture. Children will grow and develop around the fact that they cannot breathe through their noses properly. It will change the way some of the most basic functions work, such as chewing and swallowing food, drinking liquids, forming words, and swallowing their own saliva. The mouth breathing may start as just a habit, but the facial changes it brings will remain into the adult years if the habit is not addressed. Growth is a powerful tool for change, whether good or bad. A child with an open mouth will grow into an adult with the same features and difficulties that come from having an open mouth.
Adenoid face is a term that is used to describe the facial characteristics of someone with severely enlarged adenoids. The adenoids are located in the upper part of the throat and have similar function to the tonsils. When they become swollen or enlarged they prevent you from breathing through your nose and force you to breathe through your mouth. Once the mouth breathing posture sets in, you will see changes in the facial appearance.
Here are the features of an adenoid face:
- Features of adenoid face:
- Long, narrow shape
- Flattened features
- Narrow and vaulted palate
- Elevated nostrils
- Short upper lip
- Gummy smile
- Sleepy or droopy eyes
- Small lower jaw