They say ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ and when it comes to our physical features, there is never a one-size-fits-all definition of beauty. Our faces are usually reflections of the family characteristics passed down from our mothers and fathers – who assure us from an early age that we are beautiful, despite what we ourselves may think when we sometimes peer anxiously into our early morning bathroom mirrors.
Conventional standards of physical beauty aside, there are facial characteristics that are representative of a superior level of well-being and other traits that are indicative of poor health. And, believe it or not, those facial features can start evolving during childhood as a result of mouth breathing.
Breathing through one’s mouth as opposed to through a nose may seem like a minor issue. Breathing is breathing, right? As long as you are getting air in your lungs, what’s the difference?
In fact, there are many reasons why breathing through the nose is superior to mouth respiration. We were built to breathe through our noses and drawing in air that way increases circulation and blood oxygen, as well as improves lung volume. Conversely, mouth breathing bypasses critical phases of the breathing process, including the release of bacteria-fighting chemicals that reduce the risk of infection.
But, could mouth breathing also affect what you look like? The answer, incredibly, is yes.
Take a Deep Breath
When the mouth is left open to breathe for long periods of time, the muscles in the cheeks tighten and apply an external force to the upper and lower jaw that causes a narrowing effect on the face. Additionally, the tongue – which typically rests on the roof of a closed mouth is forced to drop down lower, creating a narrow upper dental arch and preventing the normal development of the mid-face.
Years of mouth breathing will lead to an overall narrowing of the face, crooked teeth and poor jaw development. A child who breathes this way can expect to have a lower chin and less prominent retracted lower jaw.
Why does mouth occur in the first place? Young children who suffer from chronic congestion – whether a result of allergies or other nasal issues – typically get used to breathing through their mouths.
What Mouth Breathing Looks Like
Snoring, chronic fatigue, dark under-eye circles and enlarged adenoids are all signs of mouth breathing in children. If you recognize these symptoms in your own child, consider a visit to a dentist trained in myofunctional therapy, which can help correct abnormal functions of the tongue and facial muscles in young children.
Children are beautiful to their parents, no matter what they look like. But we can all take steps to ensure the kids we raise are beautifully healthy inside and out.
Think your child suffers from chronic mouth breathing? We can help. With locations in Alexandria, VA and Washington DC, DC Smiles provides a holistic approach to dental care that incorporates total-body health and wellness. Learn more at dcsmiles.com.