Mouth breathing is not just an appearance concern but may lead to medical issues that affect overall health. Chronic difficulty breathing through the nose can be a sign of developing airway dysfunction and can impact the future development of the face. The prospect of poor development is particularly a concern for children. As people who are still growing, development and the hope of doing so with as few obstacles as possible is crucial. By age 2, half of the craniofacial development is completed, by age 4, three quarters and by age 12, 89% of the craniofacial development for boys and 94% for girls. Mouth breathing and facial development are linked and if mouth breathing is left uncorrected as a child, it can lead to developmental problems down the road.

Effects Mouth Breathing Has on Facial Growth

Our airway is designed to select for nasal breathing as the preferred breathing method. When an obstruction forces people to breathe primarily through their mouth, the airway and physical attributes that support the airway can’t develop to their fullest potential. This underdevelopment manifests as faces that are:

  • Long
  • Narrow
  • Sunk in upper face
  • Less prominent jaws
  • Retracted chin

When young children become mouth breathers:

  • The habit is harder to break
  • Nasal structures do not develop the structural capacity for air intake
  • Their head and face features are most susceptible to change
  • Larger negative impact on the shape of the face

Advantages of Nasal Breathing vs. Mouth Breathing

What are the advantages to nasal breathing as opposed to mouth breathing? Nasal breathing:

  • Reduces exposure to foreign substances such as allergens
  • Filters, humidifies and warms inhaled air
  • Increases airflow to arteries, veins, and nerves
  • Increases oxygen uptake and circulation
  • Slows down breathing which is conducive to calmness
  • Improves lung volume
  • Helps your diaphragm work properly

Without these benefits, someone who is a default mouth breather inhales lower quality air and reduces the development of their airways and lungs.

Other Airway Related Problems

Air quality doesn’t just affect the respiratory system, it also affects the cardiovascular system and people’s mental health. There are also other unforeseen consequences of picking up this habit, especially during childhood.

  • Dental problems
  • Mental disorders
  • Sleep apnea

Airway Issues and Facial Development

If your child is primarily breathing through their mouth, they may be susceptible to facial underdevelopment. Early intervention is key to making sure your child’s face and jaw develop to their fullest potential. Call Dr. Raman’s office at (816) 436-4422 to schedule a consultation.