child breathing through mouth

Is your Child Breathing through the Mouth?

child breathing through mouthThousand Oaks, Agoura Hills and Westlake Village, CA

As a parent, you probably stay aware of what your child eats and how much sleep they get, but have you ever paid much attention to the way your child breathes? If your child breathes with their mouth open, whether it be when awake or asleep, this can raise the risk of airway problems, a sleep breathing disorder, and even hindered the development of the jaws and facial structure. This article will explore the potential risks of mouth breathing in children, and how your Agoura Hills dentists at Integrative Dental Arts can help.

“If you can see or hear your child’s breathing, that’s a problem”

That’s what Dr. Benedict Miraglia, a dentist based out of Mount Kisco, N.Y., said at a recent seminar that explored the relationship between sleep and ADHD. It might look cute when your child snores, but snoring is never normal behavior in a child. It often develops as a consequence of frequently breathing through the mouth. This method of breathing can constrict the airway, or impede the growth of the face and dental arches, not leaving enough room in the mouth to house the tongue, which then slides back into the airway when alseep. Any problem with the airway can cause a sleep breathing disorder, which occurs when breathing becomes more difficult or ceases briefly during sleep. A person with sleep apnea may experience dozens of these attacks per night; for a person with advanced, untreated sleep apnea, the number of attacks could reach the hundreds!

The potential negative ramifications of mouth breathing do not end there. This behavior also has been associated with a greater likelihood of developing a degenerative inflammatory disease later in life. Mouth breathing also can change the appearance of your child, leading to the development of a flatter facial profile from cheek to neck, a recessed chin, and unfavorable profile.

A dentist with training in airway management can help correct your child’s mouth breathing

Dentists can do much more than clean teeth and fill cavities. Dentists who practice sleep apnea dentistry also receive training in airway management, identifying problems in the airway such as a sleep breathing disorder. Airflow is crucial to the development of the brain, which clears free radicals from the prefrontal cortex during sleep—especially in the deepest stages of the sleep cycle. Even if your child has sleep apnea, even if he or she goes to sleep quickly and does not exhibit any symptoms of insomnia, his or her brain is not able to get the rest it needs because the diminished airflow sends signals to the brain that breathing has become more difficult or interrupted. The brain then signals the body to disrupt the sleep cycle and resume breathing, thus depriving your child of the mental and physical restoration that happens during the deepest stage of sleep.

Children with sleep apnea often show symptoms that mimic a hyperactivity disorder such as ADD or ADHD. The unfortunate fact is that many children diagnosed with one of these issues actually are living with sleep deprivation, caused by an airway issue that is related to their mouth breathing. A sleep apnea dentist can provide relief by treating whatever is causing the airway issue: whether it be allergies, a high or narrow palate, a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils and adenoids, or even diet.

Airway treatment in Agoura Hills

If your child has sleep apnea, this is a serious condition that must be diagnosed and treated by a medical professional. Just hoping it will go away on its own is the worst decision you can make for your child, as the sleep breathing disorder only will get worse! Even if sleep apnea has not developed, the risks are real if your child is breathing through the mouth. Your dentist at Integrative Dental Arts can help. Dr. Kathleen Carson has training in airway management. Treatment may consist of wearing a customized oral appliance, which guides the lower jaw forward to maintain an open airway; or myofunctional therapy, which involves performing a series of simple exercises that work the muscles of the orofacial system and can strengthen and expand the airway. In either case, one of the goals is to achieve ideal oral rest posture: with lips together, teeth together, and the tongue resting comfortably against the upper palate. This resting posture also encourages proper breathing through the nose.

To find out more about how Integrative Dental Arts can treat mouth breathing or sleep apnea, contact our office by calling (818) 889-0400 to schedule a consultation.

Integrative Dental Arts offers comprehensive oral health care services to our patients in the areas of Agoura Hills and Westlake Village in southern California.