This may sound like an odd combination, but should your child primarily use their mouth for breathing your Orthodontist may advise that you take your child for an evaluation with an ENT (Ear, Nose, Throat) doctor. Mouth breathing can influence how the teeth develop.
Breath to humans is as similar in necessity as sunlight to a tree. But, if a tree receives sunlight from only one direction, the trunk and branches grow toward the light source, and the tree will become permanently deformed. If a child is unable to maintain a consistent, healthy nasal airway, the body will automatically program the system to take breaths through the mouth. Whenever a child cannot breathe through the nose, a mouth-breathing mode of breathing occurs.
When the change is made from nasal to mouth breathing some unhealthy things can occur:
~ Chronic middle ear infections
~ Upper airway infections
~ Decrease in oxygen intake into the lungs, which can lead to lack of energy
~ Abnormal swallowing pattern
In adapting the mouth for breathing, two basic changes takes place; the upper lip is raised and the lower jaw is maintained in an open posture. The tongue, which is normally placed near the roof of the mouth, drops to the floor of the mouth and protrudes to allow a greater flow of air into the back of the throat. This alters the normal muscular activity of the face and jaw during critical developing years.
The largest increments of growth occur during the earliest years of life. By age four, the facial skeleton has reached 60% of its adult size, and by 12, when most parents think of orthodontic treatment, 90% of facial growth has already occurred. Consequently, if a child has chronic untreated nasal obstruction during the early critical growing years, facial deformities result... some subtle, some more noticeable.
We CAN help influence proper facial growth and maximize quality of life for a child. How your child breathe should not be taken for granted. When parents take early orthodontic action, not only can the existing problems be corrected, the physical and emotional pain the child may experience is prevented.