The term oral or mouth breatherrefers to the child who breathes almost entirely or completely through the mouth and not the nose. Far from being a minor problem, we have to be careful. The consequences can be significant.

Causes of mouth breathing

The most common causes of this mode of breathing are

  • Obstruction: allergies, frequent colds, excessive mucus, vegetations, etc.
  • Anatomical characteristics: hypertrophic tonsils, poor dental occlusion, deviated nasal septum, etc.
  • Bad habits:prolonged thumb-sucking, sucking of objects, keeping the bottle and the dummy for too long.

Symptoms of mouth breathing

The most frequent symptoms we can find in children who are mouth breathers are the following:

  • Persistent cough (dry and also nocturnal)
  • Abnormal breathing.
  • Obstructive sleep apneas.
  • Narrow and ogival palate, elongated jaw.
  • Atypical swallowing.
  • Sinusitis.
  • Rhinitis.
  • Otitis.
  • Dark circles under the eyes.
  • Hypotonia in facial muscles.
  • Postural alterations.

The main characteristic of the mouth-breathing child is that it does not use its nose to breathe and its mouth is always half open.

Consequences of this breathing

This type of breathing has consequences and influences the development of the child on an orofacial level by producing alterations in his or her language and voice:

  • Hypotonia of the lower lip.
  • Short or retracted upper lip.
  • Drooling (mouth half open).
  • Lowered and forward tongue.
  • Narrow and ogival palate.
  • Open or cross bite.
  • Narrow nostrils.
  • Swallowing problems.

However, it is not only language which is compromised. The repercussions also appear at the respiratory, cardiovascular, nervous system, digestive, haematological, immunological and musculoskeletal levels. All of this ends up diminishing the correct development of the child.

When any of the above-mentioned symptoms appears, it is very important to consult professionals. We should consult a speech therapist,physiotherapist, paediatrician, otolaryngologist, orthodontist mainly. The aim is to be able to establish a precise diagnosis and intervene as soon as possible to prevent or correct problems arising from this habit.

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