Nasal breathing is the most efficient way for the body to exchange and absorb oxygen. Nitric oxide is produced in the nasal passage and inhaled through the nose. This helps the lungs ability to absorb oxygen and raise blood oxygen levels. The nose is well suited for breathing because it warms, humidifies and filters the air to prevent bacteria and particles entering the lungs.
Causes Of Obstructed Nasal Breathing
- Tonsils and adenoids – The tonsils lie at the back of the throat on each side of the soft palate and the adenoids lay at the back of the nose behind the palate and are generally not seen when looking into the mouth.
- Allergic rhinitis – the inflammation and swelling caused by the allergens in the mucous membranes of the nasal passages. Most common allergens are dust mites, grasses, and pollens.
- Deviated septum – when the bone and cartilage between both sides of the nose tends to collapse and deviate within the nose.
Signs and symptoms of mouth breathing are:
- Dry lips and dry mouth
- Inflammed gums (gingivitis)
- Dental decay
- Lowered tongue position leading to an open mouth posture which results in a long narrow face, high vaulted palate and crowding due to an inadequately developed maxilla
- Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
- Venous pooling around the eyes – dark circles around the eyes
- Forward posture
- Grinding or clenching
- Bed wetting
- Snoring – “children are not meant to snore”. So any child snoring might potentially have sleep disordered breathing or obstructive sleep apnoea
Dentists role in managing mouth breathing are:
- Assessing for mouth breathing symptoms and signs
- Screening for enlarged tonsils
- Identifying the child as at risk for nasal obstruction and organising appropriate referrals
- Directing facial growth and dental development after the removal of any airway issues through myofunctional therapy or dentofacial orthopaedics.
Due to the impact that mouth breathing has on facial and dental development, it is important that your child is seen for an orthodontic evaluation between the ages of 7 to 9yrs. We work closely with ENT specialists and are more than happy to refer to any child that is recognised as having an airway problem.