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Understanding how breathing habits influence facial growth, dental health & muscle development



Nasal Breathing Created Beautiful Faces

Have you ever wondered why some people have well proportioned, symmetrical faces that are pleasing to the eye, while others have long, narrow faces with tired eyes, weak chins and lips that have to strain to stay closed? Although one might assume that these traits are genetic, it may surprise you to learn that our facial growth is directly related to our breathing habits.


When we breathe through our nose, keep our lips and jaws together, and rest our tongue on the roof of our mouth, we have harmony and equilibrium in the Orofacial Complex, leading to good growth of our face and airway. This is known as CORRECT ORAL REST POSTURE, and it leads ideal face and growth straight, healthy teeth.


When we habitually breathe through our mouth with the lips apart, jaw open, and our tongue resting low, we have POOR ORAL REST POSTURE. This will result in a narrowing of the jaws, lengthening of the face (long Face Syndrome), crowding of teeth, and possible speech issues.


When our jaws are too narrow and retrognathic (set back too far) it can cause narrowing of our airway, making it even MORE difficult to breathe nasally and more difficult to rest with our jaws, tongue and lips in the proper place. It is a vicious cycle.


Using Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy to Address Mouth Breathing Habits

The treatment of chronic mouth breathing needs to be a team effort. Many individuals who breathe through their mouth do so because of issues such as large tonsils/adenoids or stuffy noses from allergies, or a deviated nasal septum. It is often necessary to collaborate with an Otolaryngologist (ENT) or an Allergist prior to attempting to change breathing behaviors. When other factors are involved such as tongue tie or narrow jaws, collaboration with a dentist/orthodontist may be warranted.


Once the airway is patent (open and unobstructed), Certified Orofacial Myologists are the experts in addressing and correcting the Oral Rest Posture issues that often remain. They can also assist in eliminating the sucking habits and other oral habits that are often associated with mouth breathing. Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy not only teaches the oral muscles to rest in the right place, but it also focuses on teaching proper function during chewing and swallowing.


Common Signs of Chronic Mouth Breathing

  • Noisy, messy eating habits

  • Dry, chapped lips

  • Allergic shiners (dark circles under eyes)

  • Gingivitis,cavities, bad breath

  • Abnormal jaw development

  • Crowded teeth/malocclusion

  • Speech issues and hoarseness

  • Poor sleep, attention issues and behavioral problems


Proper vs Improper Breathing

Respiration and breathing are essential for sustaining life. While respiration is an involuntary, physiological activity, breathing is a habitual, voluntary behavior. Many people do not realize that there is actually a RIGHT and WRONG way to breathe. While breathing CAN take place through the mouth, humans are actually designed to be nasal breathers.


There are numerous benefits to nasal breathing that help keep our bodies healthy. When we nasal breathe, our body naturally cleans, warms and humidifies the air we breathe before it enters our lungs. Nasal breathing also allows an important gas called Nitric Oxide (NO) to be produced in our paranasal sinuses which helps to kill bacteria, dilate blood vessels and carry oxygen to the rest of our body. Low NO levels are linked to many diseases. Mouth breathing leads to a slow, steady decline in our health. Nasal breathing is one of the best things that you can do for your overall health.


Source: International Association of Orofacial Myology