How Mouth Breathing Affects Your Child’s Facial Development


Significant facial development and growth milestones occur during your child’s first six years. As they grow, how they breathe becomes a central part of their health and educational development. In fact, the inability to breathe properly through the nose affects everything from their speech development to their facial structure and overall health.

The Consequences of Mouth Breathing

Children who aren’t able to breathe well through their nose (perhaps due to sinus congestion and colds) tend to breathe through their mouth. Studies have shown that 50% of children persistently breathe through the mouth.  This habitual mouth breathing sets up a chain of events. For one, breathing with an open mouth at night means your child is breathing more than required—they’re literally gulping in air.  This makes oxygen absorption much less efficient, impacting the immune system, their ability to concentrate, their mood, and their overall health. Not only is mouth breathing bad news for developing brains, but it also hinders the development of the face and jaw.

How Mouth Breathing Changes Your Child’s Facial Shape

When you breathe through your mouth, your cheek muscles have to work twice as hard, exerting external force on both your upper and lower jaw. So the more frequently your child breathes through their mouth, the greater these forces that cause the jaw and dental arches to grow vertically, eventually narrowing the face shape (resulting in ‘long face syndrome’).

A narrow jaw reduces the size of the upper airway, putting children at risk of developing lifelong breathing and sleep disorders.
Moreover, narrow dental arches mean that your mouth has less room to accommodate the tongue. In a closed mouth, the tongue rests against the roof of the mouth, but in this case, the tongue positions itself at the floor of the mouth. This increases the tongue’s likelihood of sliding back in the airway at night, leading to sleep apnea later in life.

The absence of nasal breathing prevents the stimulation of nasal airflow, which impacts facial balance—namely the symmetry of the upper jaw and mid-face (including the cheekbones and nasal bones).

Mouth breathing is also the reason behind overcrowding of teeth, retracted chin, overbites, crooked smiles, and the resulting obstructed nasal passages.
The Sooner Your Child Practices Nasal Breathing, the Better Mouth breathing, restless sleep and snoring are all connected, and are also early warning signs that something is interfering with your child’s health. The good news is that early intervention can establish nasal breathing, good posture, and correct swallowing.
So how do you break your child’s habitual mouth breathing habits? The Buteyko Breathing Method offers a holistic and drug-free method for restoring the natural balance of respiration.

The Buteyko Method teaches children and adults about reduced-volume breathing exercises and daily gentle nasal breathing. The restoration of your child’s healthy breathing requires the participation of at least one parent.

Every session of the Buteyko Method is conducted under the supervision of a Buteyko breathing practitioner, often Sasha Yakovleva or Buteyko Specialists trained by her, who teach breathing exercises in the form of physical activities and games!

child smiling
This child breathes healthily through her nose

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