The Mental Health Consequences of Mouth Breathing

consequences of mouth breathing

consequences of mouth breathingSan Francisco, Marin, and Oakland, CA

You may have heard someone referred to as a “mouth breather” as an insult. However, you might not have known that the habit of mouth breathing actually can be quite harmful to your overall health and wellness. In fact, children who spend a significant amount of time breathing through their mouth face an elevated risk for several medical issues—some of which might surprise you. That’s why the dentists at Glen Park Dental want to explain the possible mental health consequences of mouth breathing.

Mouth breathing can have serious mental effects

When someone breathes through the mouth, they are gulping more air than they need. Despite this surplus, mouth breathing is less efficient than taking more shallow breaths through the nose. Mouth breathing also can be a gateway to the development of a sleep breathing disorder, even in young children. A sleep breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea, means frequent disruptions of the sleep cycle and low oxygen levels.

As time passes, this subpar sleep and oxygen deficiency have a dual harmful effect on the mind, with the possible consequences including:

  • For children, an impaired development of the prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that learns and processes new information.
  • Overall, a reduction in the synaptic connections made in the brain.
  • Increases in the levels of cortisol and adrenaline, which can lead to anxiety and aggressive behavior. This is also why children with sleep apnea often manifest symptoms of a hyperactivity disorder such as ADD or ADHD.

In addition to all of the above possible effects, poor sleep and diminished oxygen levels even can lower your IQ or cause problems learning.

Get the facts on mouth breathing

So what causes mouth breathing? Common triggers include asthma and allergies. Many children develop this habit due to excessive thumb sucking, which has its own potential negative consequences.

Often, people mouth breathe at night while asleep—meaning they never realize they’re engaging in this harmful habit. However, a trained medical professional can diagnose mouth breathing by examining anything from behavior to bite alignment or even the presence of a speech impediment such as a lisp.

If your child is breathing through the mouth, this could be corrected through a course of therapy using functional orthodontics. These appliances can be used well before a child is mature enough for braces, and can help correct any of the negative impact mouth breathing has had on both facial and jaw development. Any patient who is mouth breathing could benefit from myofunctional therapy—a series of simple exercises that work the muscles of the mouth and face. Performed regularly over time, these exercises re-train the orofacial system and help achieve ideal resting oral posture: with lips closed, teeth closed, and the tongue resting gently against the upper palate.

Treating Mouth Breathing in San Francisco

These are just some of the potential consequences linked to chronic mouth breathing. That’s why the experts at Glen Park Dental can correct this negative habit, no matter your age. We work with certified myofunctional therapists with the experience and knowledge to prescribe exercises specific to the condition of mouth breathing. Make your appointment today by calling (415) 585-1500 if you’re located in the areas of Marin, Oakland, and San Francisco, California.