Continually breathing through the mouth has more serious consequences than getting funny looks from others. Left untreated, mouth breathing can cause major changes to your oral health and even your facial structure. In fact, it can lead to the development of long-face syndrome, a condition characterized by a long, narrow face, crooked teeth and a narrow mouth, according to dentist Dr. Yosh Jefferson in Know Your Teeth, an Academy of General Dentistry website. Consult a doctor if you or your child are breathing through the mouth.
Symptoms & Effects
Common symptoms of this breathing method include dry, cracked lips, a dry mouth, bad breath, snoring and daytime fatigue. Breathing through the mouth can have serious health consequences, so finding the root cause is vital to stopping the behavior. In addition to long-face syndrome's structural changes, mouth breathing can cause gingivitis and increase the risk of developing serious cardiovascular conditions. It limits the amount of oxygen in the blood, increasing your likelihood of having high blood pressure and heart complications. The poor sleep associated with mouth breathing also reduces your cognitive function and energy level during the day.
Chronic allergies can cause mouth breathing. This symptom is commonly found in children. Breathing through the mouth isn't unusual when you have an allergic episode or a cold because your nasal passageways are obstructed. When these passageways are continually blocked due to chronic allergies, however, mouth breathing can become the norm. Children with this problem not only have dental issues but also may have behavioral or academic challenges.
The adenoids are made up of tissue connecting the throat and nasal cavity. This tissue's function is to fight infection from bacteria and viruses that enter your body through the nose. Your adenoids can become enlarged during this process. In addition to mouth breathing, symptoms include snoring, loud breathing and sleep apnea. Ear infections are also common in children with enlarged adenoids, according to the Nemours Foundation's KidsHealth.org. Surgery to remove the adenoids may be necessary if health effects continue.
Millions of Americans have sleep apnea and 10 million are estimated to have the disorder without knowing it, according to the American Association for Respiratory Care. Apnea sufferers take shallow breaths or stop breathing for short periods during sleep. These breathing pauses can occur several times an hour and result in snoring or choking sounds. Breathing through your mouth is common, particularly when snoring or gasping for air as you regain normal breathing ability. Waking up with a dry mouth and throat are common signs of this condition.
- Academy of General Dentisty: Mouth Breathing Can Cause Major Health Problems
- Marietta Memorial Hospital: Allergy-Linked Mouth Breathing Spells Trouble for Kids
- KidsHealth.org: Enlarged Adenoids
- American Association for Respiratory Care: Sleep Apnea Facts
- National Heart Lung and Blood Institute: Sleep Apnea