Drs. James and Samuel Owens are concerned with recognizing mouth breathing and its implications. If you or your child has an issue with mouth breathing, call and make an appointment at 918.455.7700.
If your child is not “sleeping like a baby”, they are missing restorative sleep that lets them grow and develop to their genetic potential. For children, sleep is a time of growth and brain development. But many newborns and children aren’t sleeping well due to snoring and mouth breathing. These are all signs of sleep-disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnea in children.
Mouth Breathing Can Be Harmful to Your Child
While it may seem harmless, mouth breathing can affect how your child develops. It can even affect your child’s behavior and personality, as well as the adult that your child grows up to be.
The myth that your child will “grow out of it”, well, is just that – a myth. The truth is, mouth breathing can have devastating effects on the development of the face and airway.
Mouth Breathing Can Change Facial and Oral Development
When nasal breathing is blocked, facial and dental development become abnormal. Studies have proven that untreated mouth breathing leads to development of long, narrow faces with crooked teeth, receded jaw, and future TMD and headache issues.
It’s not just about aesthetics. When the jaw and airway don’t fully develop, the airway can become easily obstructed during sleep. During the complete muscle relaxation of deep stage sleep, the muscles around the airway also relax and collapse. The airway is a tight space, often made tighter by large tonsils and adenoids in both children and infants.
If the airway becomes obstructed, the brain must bounce out of deep sleep and into a lighter stage of sleep in order to push the jaw forward to allow for breathing again.
Mouth Breathing Can Impact Behavior and Personality
Interrupting deep sleep impacts development. Deep sleep is when Human Growth Hormone (HGH) is released, which is essential to a child’s brain development and long bone growth. Once deep sleep is interrupted, HGH stops being secreted. Not having enough HGH stunts your growth and brain development.
Deep sleep is the body’s chance to restore, repair, and heal. It’s a time of memory consolidation and cementing learning. Hormones that control appetite and other critical functions are regulated and stabilized during this stage.
In a child who is snoring or breathing through the mouth, the brain is not able to rest and sleep is not restorative.
Children who are deprived of deep sleep are often hyperactive as a result of adrenaline used to compensate for sleepiness. They often aren’t able to achieve their academic potential because their brains and bodies aren’t at their best in this deep sleep-deprived state. They’re often diagnosed with ADHD and other behavioral issues. They have lowered immune systems, poor health, and can be overweight.
How Parents Can Help
· Make sure your child can breathe through the nose with ease.
· Make sure your child has seen a dentist by age one.
· Make sure your child is treated for allergies. Allergies can force children into mouth breathing.
· Make sure that your child’s diet and environment aren’t contributing to allergies.