Royal Oak and Birmingham, MI
Parents, have you ever paid attention to the way your child breathes? If not, allow your Royal Oak family dentist, Dr. Nancy Hartrick, to summarize: your children never should breathe through the mouth, whether awake or asleep. In this blog today, we will go through the potential consequences of this behavior.
Any of the following can be symptoms of nighttime mouth breathing in children:
- Grinding their teeth
- Fitful sleeping or waking up regularly in the middle of the night
- Bed-wetting or daytime bladder control problems
- Lack of impulse control
- Difficult to understand when speaking
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Crooked teeth
- Misaligned bite
- Daytime irritability
- Difficulty focusing in school
What happens when a child breathes through the mouth?
Unless your child has a cold or sinus congestion, he or she should breathe through the nose. This method of breathing ensures greater oxygenation of the blood and has a host of other health benefits, such as encouraging the proper development of the face and jaws, as well as wider dental arches, helping to minimize the risk of an airway problem either as a child or later in life.
Mouth breathing, however, leaves your child with a deficiency of oxygen. This lowered oxygenation impedes quality of sleep, as well as the restoration to the brain and mind that should occur during sleep. Mouth breathing also makes it difficult, if not impossible, to achieve ideal resting oral posture: with lips together, teeth together, and the tongue resting against the roof of the mouth. The consequences of poor resting oral posture can include developmental issues with the jaw, narrow dental arches, bite misalignment, and speech impediments. Your child’s developing facial structure also can change, resulting in a longer, imbalanced facial structure that is less aesthetically pleasing, with crooked or protruding teeth.
A narrow airway, in combination with having less oxygen in the system, and any recession in the jaw all add up to trouble for your child’s airway. This means that if you have a child who breathes through the mouth also is at a higher risk of developing a sleep breathing disorder, such as obstructive sleep apnea. In children, sleep-breathing disorders often produce symptoms that mimic those of an attention disorder like ADHD. If your child has been designated with ADD or ADHD, but medication and therapy have done little to correct the behavioral issues, then a sleep breathing disorder could be the root cause of the problem.
How your dentist can help
If your child is mouth breathing only while asleep, you may never know it. Dr. Hartrick has unique training related to airway disorders and can identify if your child is exhibiting this behavior through an in-office examination. From there, Hartrick Dentistry can correct the behavior, prescribing a course of myofunctional therapy. These are simple, pain-free exercises that work the musculature of the mouth and tongue to correct negative behaviors such as mouth breathing. If you are living in the areas of Royal Oak and Birmingham, Michigan, find out more or schedule an airway evaluation for your child by calling Hartrick Dentistry at (248) 549-0950.