Today’s children are born with more *gadgets* than our ancestors. There are new conveniences such as pacifiers, baby bottles, sippy cups and pureed foods that previous generations never received. The constant sucking on man-made objects act like a retainer that helps shape the mouth, teeth and tongue. For example, constant pacifier use can create a high, narrow palette (roof of the mouth) and narrow arches. The teeth may look like a narrow U shape instead of a wide U. It can even look like a V shape too. It can also cause a narrow, long looking face.
Eating pureed food doesn’t allow the chewing muscles to exercise and form muscles around our cheekbones and strengthen the lips, tongue and all 4 chewing muscles. This can cause weak facial muscles.
These issues may also lead to mouth breathing. Many scientific studies have confirmed that mouth breathing is unhealthy and can lead to imbalances. All babies are born as nose breathers. So what happens to make someone start breathing out of their mouth? There can be many explanations. Here are a few:
- A stuffy nose from a cold or illness. This could start off acute and turn into a long-term chronic issue. A solution is to try to open the nasal passages. You can try nasal sprays, a neti pot, aromatherapy and inhalers to breathe better.
- A food sensitivity/allergy. Common foods are dairy, gluten and peanuts.
- An environmental allergy. Common are dust, pet dander and mold in the home/bedroom.
- There’s no room for the tongue. The teeth don’t make enough room for it.
No room for the tongue?
The normal *home* for the tongue is for the tip of the tongue to be resting between your two front teeth and the rest of the tongue lying flat on the roof of your mouth. When there is no room for the tongue, the tongue lies on the floor of the mouth instead of the roof. When you go about your day, try to pay attention to where your tongue is. Try to observe at various points of the day where your tongue likes to call home. Many times, people bite their tongue and constantly have bite marks on the side of the tongue because there’s no room on the pallet for the tongue. This can also happen when adult teeth are removed (such as during braces). Other teeth are pushed back to make them all fit in good looking order, but sometimes breathing and TMJ issues arise.
When a person breathes from their mouth instead of the nose, it no longer uses the body’s innate filtration system. Bacteria, viruses, and debris floating in the air go into the mouth when breathing and pass tonsils and adenoids before getting in the lungs. While the nose can trap these microbes, they can get stuck and irritate the tonsils and adenoids. This could be one reason for enlarged tonsils and adenoids. This inflammation makes it harder to breathe through the nose and mouth breathing can occur.
When we sleep the bottom jaw can fall slightly back and can block the airway. Many times, when the airway is blocked you can hear snoring and/or grinding teeth by the sleeper. When oxygen is restricted to the brain, it’s rarely a restful, quiet sleep. Children (and adults) feel tired in the mornings. Some are hyperactive. But children won’t get the optimal cognitive and physical growth if they are not able to breathe and function at their best.
A few things that could be observed are baby teeth without spaces between them, cross bites (scissor bites), tongue thrusts, grinding of teeth, snoring, a strong gag reflex or speech issues.
If you suspect a child has any of these symptoms, it’s worth an assessment. Our office thoroughly assesses your child at different ages and addresses these issues when we see a problem. Read more about our interceptive orthodontics