San Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA
Breathing is essential to life, and yet unless you are dealing with a respiratory issue, you probably don’t give a second thought to your breathing—much less how you breathe. However, if you are a parent, the way your child breathes can make a big difference in the way they eat, their speech development, their appearance, and their overall health. In this blog, the San Francisco family dentists at Glen Park Dental will explain how mouth breathing can alter your child’s facial shape.
There actually is a right way, and a wrong way, to breathe
Humans are not intended to breathe regularly through the mouth unless there is another pre-existing condition complicating the issue like sinus congestion. The correct way to breathe is through the nose. These breaths are shallower, meaning that air is pulled deep into the lungs, allowing more time for the absorption of oxygen. This greater oxygenation allows the nervous system to exist in a parasympathetic state that aids the performance of many voluntary and involuntary bodily functions.
Mouth breathing has consequences
When your child breathes regularly through the mouth, he or she literally is gulping air. This makes the absorption of oxygen much less efficient and can have impacts on the immune system, posture, ability to maintain focus at school, overall health, and mood. Mouth breathing also can alter the facial structure, or hinder overall development of the face and jaw.
Here’s how mouth breathing can change facial shape
When you breathe through the mouth, the muscles in the cheeks have to work harder and become taut. When these muscles tauten, an external force is exerted on both the upper and lower jaw. The more frequently you breathe through the mouth, the greater the influence of these forces, which eventually can narrow the shape of the face as well as the dental arches. Having a more narrow face and dental arches could mean there’s less room in the mouth to accommodate the tongue—which drops down to the floor of the mouth, instead of resting against the roof of the mouth. This also makes the tongue more susceptible to sliding back into the airway when you lie down, which can cause a sleep breathing disorder such as sleep apnea.
As for the facial structure, the tongue dropping down into the floor of the mouth hinders mid-face development, which normally is pushed outward by the tongue when correctly positioned. Children who breathe through the mouth are more likely to develop facial structures that are long, narrow, have less prominent jaws, and a retracted chin. This creates an undesirable facial profile that may create self-esteem issues in a child.
Functional orthodontics in San Francisco
If your child is breathing regularly through the mouth, he or she may benefit from functional orthodontics. This involves wearing an oral appliance that guides the jaws back into their preferred position, eventually widening dental arches and correcting the facial structure. Functional orthodontics can be most beneficial for young children during the pivotal stage of growth and development. Your child also may benefit from myofunctional therapy. This therapy involves performing a series of simple exercises that work the muscles of the mouth and tongue. Performed regularly, these exercises re-train the orofacial system, helping to correct negative habits and encourage a return to the ideal oral resting posture—with lips together, teeth together, and the tongue resting gently against the upper palate. This oral resting posture also predisposes your child to breathe through the nose, as intended.
To learn more about myofunctional therapy or some of the other ways that Bay Area dentists at Glen Park Dental can correct mouth breathing and any of its harmful effects, call our office at (415) 585-1500 to schedule a consultation.
Glen Park Dental serves the oral health needs of patients in Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California.