Mouth breathing is commonly seen when the child suffers from some kind of a nasal obstruction. Read on to know the causes, symptoms and treatment for this condition in children…
Sometimes, due to a medical condition, or as a habit, some people tend to breathe through their mouth. This is known as mouth breathing. This is a far more common dental problem than people think and it needs to be taken seriously. Although mouth breathing may be seen in adults, but if this condition is spotted in children, then it could lead to severe irreversible malformations in the dentofacial region. It is a condition that could be caused due to various reasons, and these may even develop right from infancy. Given below are the causes, symptoms, risks and treatment measures for children that are mouth breathers.
There are many conditions that could lead to mouth breathing in infants and children. These include:
- Nasal Obstruction: Sometimes, children may have a medical condition due to which their nasal pathway may be compromised. Due to this, they do not manage to take in sufficient amount of air through their nose and so, end up breathing from their mouth. Thus, this may be one of the causes of mouth breathing in children.
- Jaw Problems: In some cases, the person may have a skeletal problem. Here, the jaw may be mispositioned due to which, there is incomplete closure of the mouth, which invariably leads to mouth breathing. At other times, the person may have a high arched palate, which could lead to breathing through their mouth while sleeping and sometimes, only the lips may be incompetent, due to which, they may not meet completely and so, there may be mouth breathing.
- Other conditions that could lead to mouth breathing in kids and children include nasal polyps, respiratory diseases like asthma, sleep apnea, etc.
There are quite a few ways by which a person can identify this condition. Firstly, more often than not, the person will have typical lips that will be everted and slightly thick and dry. He may also suffer from dry mouth due to the drooling of saliva from the corners of the mouth. This drooling puts him at a further risk of suffering from infections, like Candidal infections in the corner of the mouth. Also, due to mouth breathing, the person could end up swallowing air, due to which he may complain of gas and bloating.
Effects and Risks
There is a very important relation between mouth breathing in children and their oral status. To say that mouth breathing has a detrimental effect on the individual’s dental health is an understatement. When children breathe through their mouth, due to the drooling, there is loss of saliva and dryness of mouth. Due to this, it is far more likely that the person may suffer from tooth decay. Also, because of constant breathing through the mouth, the palate tends to get more and more arched and the lower jaw begins to elongate. Because in children, the jaws are still in the growing and elongation stage, they easily get molded. This gives the person the typical appearance of a mouth breather, known as long face syndrome, with a thin and narrow face and a long or forwardly placed lower jaw. Due to this narrowing of the jaws, the child often ends up with other problems, like crowding teeth, overbite problems, malocclusion, etc. Furthermore, this also affects the overall health of the child, because when breathing through the mouth, there is no hair nor cilia present to trap any dust and pathogens entering. Thus, mouth breathers are more susceptible to suffer from respiratory diseases.
The mouth breathing treatment will depend on the underlying cause. If the child is breathing through his mouth due to an obstruction or a medical condition, like a nasal polyp, then he will need to get rid of the obstruction with the help of medicines or with the help of drugs. If the child is a habitual mouth breather then he can do some exercises to increase the competency of the lips, like holding a button or a pencil to make the lips meet. Fortunately, as the child is still in his growing stages, there are chances that the facial deformity can be reversed with the help of myofunctional appliances, which are appliances that control and aid in bone growth. This way, the shape and growth of the dentofacial skeleton can be guided correctly. For the malocclusion, the person can go in for orthodontic treatment.
This was all about the causes, symptoms, risk and treatment options regarding how to stop mouth breathing in children. As mentioned earlier, this is a serious condition that can wreak havoc when it comes to the child’s dental and overall health. Hence, this condition must be dealt with on a priority basis, so as to prevent complications and irreversible damage to the orofacial region.