Snoring and mouth breathing are not normal. We should all be breathing through our noses, and these habits in a growing child can point to an underlying problem. If a child is mouth breathing, this will alter how their upper and lower jaws develop. Mouth breathing can also indicate inadequate airway, leading to poor sleep and resultant problems with neurocognitive development. However, we as orthodontists have the ability to help positively affect the skeletal growth, especially if we intervene early.
Ideally, facial growth in a child is aided by muscular pressures from the lips and cheeks, balanced by the internal muscular pressure of the tongue, which rests on the roof of the mouth. However, there can be factors which alter this balance - allergies, large tonsils/adenoids, asthma, deviated septum, and/or a tongue tie (thus preventing the tongue from its ideal placement on the roof of the mouth. Thus, if a growing child’s mouth is always open, the growth trajectory is towards a longer lower face, an underdeveloped upper jaw and an open bite skeletal pattern. You may also notice a dental crossbite, indicating the tongue is also not properly positioned. If not treated early, a small upper jaw may lead to incorrect or even blocked eruption of adult teeth and a compromised airway.
We often ask parents to look for these possible signs that their child’s jaws may be underdeveloped: does your child have frequent runny nose/allergies; dry or chapped lips; chronic ear infections; dental crossbite; crowded teeth or delayed eruption of teeth; red/swollen gum tissue, especially upper gums; open mouthed while sitting; eating with mouth open; underbite or overbite or open bite?
To indicate a possible tongue tie, we ask parents if there has been a history of difficulty breast feeding; speech therapy; difficulty swallowing; inability to place tongue at roof of mouth comfortably?
We ask parents to look for the following to potentially indicate an obstructed airway in their child: snoring; interrupted breathing; teeth grinding; restless sleep, tossing/turning; bed wetting; daytime sleepiness; morning headaches; hyperactivity and/or an inability to pay attention?
Please reach out to us for a complimentary consultation as early intervention is the best way to help your child!