Mouth breathing is just what it sounds like – it occurs when it’s hard for a child to inhale through the nose and is compelled to use the mouth, particularly while sleeping. It’s common for everyone to breathe through the mouth while they’re down with a cold. Very often, though, children experience trouble breathing through their nose even if they don’t have a cold or the flu or a fever. Children who breathe through their mouths during sleep tend to develop differently, causing health problems in the future, which can even influence their physical and mental development.
Mouth breathing can have many consequences, none of them positive. They include dryness of the mouth, inflamed tonsils, dry cough, swollen tongue, gingivitis, dental cavities, and bad breath. According to a study published by Clinics, approximately 50.9% of children identified as mouth breathers had a strong mouth odor. Another study in the journal Respirology showed that mouth breathing can worsen exercise-induced asthma.
In the long run, chronic mouth breathing can lead to conditions that can alter the quality of life. They include:
It’s important for parents to look out for signs of mouth breathing in their children as they may not be able to communicate these signs properly. The biggest giveaway is that, children who are mouth breathers will breathe with their mouth open and snore at night. As a parent, you can:
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A medical expert can identify the cause of mouth breathing and determine the best treatment option, which can include breathing exercises to retrain nose breath, medications for allergies and asthma, and nasal drainage. Myofunctional therapy (muscle training) can help a child overcome the habit naturally, once the medical condition is treated. These exercises should only be performed under the care and guidance of a qualified therapist.
Mouth breathing in children is a highly treatable condition and you should not delay seeking treatment for it. The best way to fix it rests on diagnosing what is preventing your child from breathing through the nose. If an allergy to dust is the culprit then air-conditioning and keeping doors and windows closed are effective ways to keep your home free of allergens and irritants brought in by air from the outside. Pillows, mattresses, and duvet should be covered with clinically proven, anti-mite, woven material. Replacing the bed and bedding with a hypoallergenic mattress like Nuvanna may help you. If it’s due to a habit like a thumb-sucking, speaking to them about the dangers and using a positive reward system can help. The sooner you act, the sooner your child will learn to breathe through the nose.