Are you breathing correctly? Do you know how? And WHY is it important?
Please take a few minutes first to watch this attached video and then read on!
Done? Okay, here we go:
I’ve been a dental hygienist for over 34 years now and I’m still learning new things all the time. Ever heard of “Long Face Syndrome?” (Yes, it definitely needs a new PR person. Another name for it is “skeletal open bite” but nobody really uses that.) I hadn’t heard about it until recently but once I learned about it, I’ve been on a crusade to tell everyone I can. This is vital information to parents, teachers, and, well, everyone!
Signs of Long Face Syndrome:
- Mouth breathing
- Snoring/sleep apnea
- Difficulty keeping lips together
- Open bite
- Cross Bite
- Crowded teeth
- Elongation of the lower face
- Narrow arch
- High palate
- Gummy smile
- Eyes look tired
- Lack of definition of cheekbones
- Head forward posture
- Rounded shoulders
In short, they have a similar appearance to Napoleon Dynamite:
Looking over this list, bet you know someone with many of these signs. And I bet you did not know this was all the result of breathing through one’s mouth!
Mouth breathing, especially in children, can be caused by allergies, enlarged tonsils, chronic sinusitis, thumb-sucking, or other habits and it literally changes the shape of the face, not in a good way. Breathing constantly through the mouth causes the face to grow long and narrow, which results in signs seen in the list above, as well as improper swallowing, speech problems such as lisping, tongue thrusting, and a restricted airway.
In addition to all that, it causes children’s jaws to develop improperly, further restricting the airflow to the lungs. Reducing the size of the airway causes snoring and sleep apnea- yes, even in young children.
|Orthodontics is one option for correcting a narrow palate.
photo found here— I’m not the only dental professional
that’s concerned about this!
When proper nasal breathing is occurring, the tongue rests behind the upper front teeth causing the jaw to form and grow in a nice curved arch, resulting in straight teeth (mostly). When mouth breathing occurs, the tongue instead is resting either on the floor of the mouth or somewhere in between. Without the tongue to act as a dental appliance, the palate, jaw and face grow narrow.
Here’s the real clincher! Children (and adults too) who are mouth breathers can suffer from poor health, low energy, high blood pressure, dry cracked lips, bad breath, gingivitis, day time fatigue, and reduced concentration (from the sleep apnea!) Sleep apnea can then affect growth and contribute to poor academic performance, as well as to behavioral problems. Often these children are misdiagnosed with “attention deficient disorder” or “hyperactivity” (you did watch the video, right?) They are then given drugs which do not solve the problem. The real problem is lack of oxygen! See the YouTube video at the top!
In addition to improving academic performance, nasal breathing will also improve athletic performance. Our body needs oxygen, but it also needs nitric oxide, which is only produced in the parasinuses
. Nitric oxide is a vasodilator (it widens the blood vessels) and enhances the uptake of oxygen by the blood, so when we only
breath through our mouth, the body just does not get enough oxygen into the blood stream, and we just do not perform as well athletically.
If you suspect you or your child is a mouth breather, it really is important to change that! I always look in my patient’s throat and evaluate the airway. Depending on the cause of the problem, your dentist can help guide you to the correct health professional. Myofunctional therapists
can help teach correct breathing. Learning to breathe through the nose is vital to good health!
Please help spread the word- breathing through the nose is the proper way to breathe. Doing so will help you and your child to live a healthier life. Any questions or comments are appreciated.
Barbara’s Dental Pearl of Wisdom for today: Close your mouth! and Keep smiling!
Until next time,