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Mouth breathing can cause changes in your facial structure and jaw alignment. Spending most of the day and night breathing through the mouth instead of the nose causes a ‘mouth breather face’ to develop.
There are several physical and medical causes of mouth breathing. These include:
Yes, the medical term for a ‘mouth breather face’ is facial hyper divergence, also known as an adenoid face or long-face syndrome.
Nasal breathing is essential for the balanced growth of your face, head, and jaw.5 Chronic mouth breathing can cause muscle imbalances that lead to noticeable facial changes, including:
Both children and adults can be mouth breathers. An estimated 11 to 56% of children are mouth breathers.6
Sometimes, mouth breathing stops with age. Children and teens who continue mouth breathing often develop long face syndrome.
Mouth breather face doesn’t only affect appearance; it also changes your muscles and bone structure, which can alter how you eat, speak, and breathe. People with mouth breather face might experience the following symptoms:
Malocclusion is more common in children with mouth breathing. Compared to nasal breathers, people who mouth breathe are more likely to experience the following:
Signs and symptoms of malocclusion may include:
Breathing through the mouth and not the nose increases your risk for sleep apnea. This disorder occurs when you stop breathing for brief periods during sleep.
Signs and symptoms of sleep apnea include:
Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. Sleep bruxism, also known as nocturnal bruxism, occurs when you grind your teeth during sleep.
Signs and symptoms of sleep bruxism include:
The muscle imbalance caused by mouth breathing can affect your posture. Many people with ‘mouth breather face’ have a forward head posture. This causes the neck to lean forward instead of holding the head up straight.
Over time, ‘mouth breather face’ can lead to the development of a hunched upper back (dowager hump).
Treatment for mouth breather face depends on when it’s diagnosed and its underlying cause.
‘Mouth breather face’ is easiest to treat in childhood while the child’s facial structures are still developing. Treatment typically focuses on correcting the underlying problem.
For example, dental surgeons can treat nasal obstructions by surgically removing enlarged tonsils or adenoids. Tongue tie is easy to treat with a simple laser surgery called a frenectomy.
After a dental professional corrects mouth breathing, the child’s face will develop normally as they grow. Older children might benefit from surgery combined with orthodontic treatment, such as:
After the jaw bone finishes growing, usually in the mid-teens to early adulthood, fewer treatment options are available. Although surgery to clear a nasal obstruction can treat mouth breathing, it won’t alter the face’s shape.
Older teens and adults may need jaw surgery to correct mouth breather face.
If you notice you are mouth breathing more than 25 to 30% of the time, it may be time to intervene.6 Here are four simple ways to switch from mouth breathing to nasal breathing:
Most of the time, people don’t think about their breathing. Taking time each day to focus on deep, mindful nasal breathing can produce many overall health benefits, including:
Practicing mindful breathing will train your body to transition to nasal breathing. Yoga classes often include breathing exercises (pranayama) that can help with this.
If nasal congestion causes you to mouth breathe, talk to your doctor or dentist about treatment options. They will determine if you need medication, at-home remedies, or different treatments to clear your nasal airways.
Myofunctional therapy involves exercises that strengthen facial and tongue muscles. Strong facial and tongue muscles help keep the mouth closed so you can breathe through the nose.
Even with your best efforts at nasal breathing, mouth breathing might not go away. Your face and jaw structure finish growing before you reach adulthood, and professional intervention may be necessary.
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