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Is Your Child a Mouth Breather? Why parents should look for signs before the problem gets worse.

July 13, 2022

Is Your Child a Mouth Breather? Why parents should look for signs before the problem gets worse.

It’s important for parents to look for signs of mouth breathing in children, so the problem can be corrected before it worsens. A child who breathes constantly through the mouth, especially during sleep, delivers cold, unfiltered, dry air to the lungs and that’s only part of the problem.

Problems associated with mouth breathing in children:

Sleep and Oxygen.
When children breathe through their mouths during the day chances are that they also breathe through their mouths at night. Mouth breathing at night is directly connected to altered levels of carbon dioxide and oxygen in the blood stream. When less oxygen is able to reach the brain, learning and the ability to focus at school becomes a problem for many children.

Sleep Apnea.
Mouth breathing is linked to sleep apnea, which causes children to wake frequently at night and wake up exhausted the next day. Children who habitually breathe through their mouth are also more likely to suffer from sleep apnea as adults.

ADHD (Attention Deficit Disorder).
Disrupted sleep can reduce the time spent in deep restorative sleep. Lack of deep (REM) sleep may reduce the child’s ability to pay attention and concentrate at school, which may be mistaken for ADHD.

Facial Growth and Development.
A child with a constantly open mouth will very likely grow into an adult with flatter facial features, less prominent cheekbones, a longer face, droopier eyes and lower facial muscle tone, a narrower palate, and even a smaller lower jaw. Maintaining nasal breathing can prevent negative growth patterns like these.

Under normal conditions, saliva continuously washes bacteria from the mouth. If the mouth is constantly dry from mouth breathing, bacteria can more readily take hold and cause problems like cavities and halitosis.

Speech and Swallowing.
Speech is affected by an open mouth as a child may also have a ‘tongue thrust swallowing pattern’. This type of swallowing pattern causes the tongue to protrude or push forward during speaking and swallowing. Also, children are more likely to struggle with certain speech sounds such as a lisp, or the inability to pronounce “s” sounds correctly.


  • Red and inflamed gums, even if their oral health is otherwise good, because when a child breathes through their mouth all night the soft tissues dry out.
  • The child complains of a dry and itchy throat when they wake up with a burning sensation. Because it is so drying, mouth breathing can also cause chronic bad breath.
  • The child snores.

WHAT CAUSES MOUTH BREATHING IN CHILDREN?- Mouth breathing in children can happen for a number of reasons:

  1. Habit.
  2. Their bite may be off.
  3. Position of the jaw and teeth may be such that when they sleep, their lips don’t quite close.
  4. Abnormally large tonsils, which can obstruct breathing.
  5. Structural defect, like a deviated septum, may make it more difficult to breathe through the nose.
  6. Skeletal deformity that makes it easier for the child to breathe if they lean forward and breathe through their mouth. This promotes the growth of the upper jaw, rather than the lower jaw. The result is a large overbite and a gummy smile.

    Determine why mouth breathing is happening before seeking correction. A thorough dental or ENT consultation will help determine whether mouth breathing is a problem.If the cause is huge tonsils then removing them might be an option. If the problem is structural and a child can’t close their lips over flared front teeth then the solution may be orthodontic treatment. 

    To control involuntary mouth breathing during sleep visit


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