Lips together/Mouth Breathing

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Children and adults should be able to comfortably rest their lips together or slightly touching when they are in a resting position.


When this cannot happen it may due to allergies, airway obstructions from enlarged tonsils and adenoids or a mouth breathing habit. When this happens the lower jaw is hinged slightly open as a way of maintaining the oral airway for breathing.


Over time, the lip incompetency can lead to speech errors and dental alignment.

A: Is the side view of a “long” face. The lower jaw is downward and in backward rotation
B: In this front view it is easy to see what happens to the lower third of the face which exposes the front teeth and makes lip closure strenuous. The result is that children will breathe through their mouth instead of their nose.


There are many examples of problems associated with facial-skeletal  disharmony and medical problems. For example, individuals with narrow mouths and high palatal vaults often have narrow and compressed sinuses.


By expanding the mouth with expansion appliances, the sinuses widen and allow more efficient airflow. Other examples can be found with individuals who tend to have recessed, small weak chins. Oftentimes,the chins are recessed because of bad bite causing the lower jaw to bite too far back.


This can cause the jaw joints to impinge against the skull joint area called glenoid fossa. This condition can cause temporomandibular disorder, migraine headaches, popping and clicking of the joints, and many other symptoms. In severe cases, damaged jaw joints can lock preventing individuals to open their mouths normally.


Furthermore, when the jaw is recessed back, it can press against the throat area, which can cause airway obstruction in the throat. The inability to breathe efficiently can often cause individuals to suffer from sleep disorder/sleep apnea. Functional appliances can permanently reposition the lower jaw forward and allow more efficient airflow and proper oxygenation in the circulatory system.

 

 

Impact of mouth breathing

  • Mouth breathing has been shown to result in poor growth of the jaws and leading to orthodontic problems. 
  • The way mouth breathing influences jaw growth is by preventing the tongue from resting in the roof of the mouth (the palate).
  • If a person is mouth breathing it is impossible for the tongue to be resting in the palate as it should.
  • It appears that when the tongue rests in the palate, it resists the light inward and downward force from the cheeks and lips with the result that the upper jaw grows larger, more forward, wider and higher.
  •  It appears that if the tongue is not resting in the palate, the upper jaw grows smaller, further back, narrower and lower.
  • Chronic mouth breathing generally results in the lower face growing longer vertically and the normal rest posture is with the mouth open.


Causes of mouth breathing

  • Mouth breathing can be a result of an obstruction in the nasal passages such as a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates, or polyps.
  • The soft tissue in the nasal passages can simply be enlarged due to inflammation related to allergies or the tissues can be boggy and enlarged due to underuse. The tissues in the nasal passages are generally more compact and healthier when there is continuous nasal breathing.
  • Enlarged adenoids can also restrict nasal breathing and trigger mouth breathing.
  • When an infant or young child experiences a serious upper airway respiratory infection, mouth breathing occurs out of necessity.  Once the infection clears up nasal breathing can return but it does not automatically return. The mouth breathing that was used out of necessity for the duration of the infection can remain as a habit.


Advantages of nasal breathing

  • Air that is breathed in through the nose is warmed, humidified, filtered, and partially disinfected before it passes the adenoids, tonsils, and the throat to the lungs.
  •  When this air reaches the lungs it is cleaned of contaminants, is at body temperature and humidity, and is easy on the lungs.
  • The condition of the air breathed in through the nose is far less likely to trigger asthma symptoms that air breathed in through the mouth.
  • Air breathed in through the mouth is relatively cold, dry, and contaminated as it passes the tonsils and enters the lungs. This compromises the health of the lungs and increases the risk of respiratory infections.

 

Our team focuses on catching symptoms early and I completed the Airway Mini Residency program with the Airway Focus Dentistry and Airway Focused Orthodontics group and now partner with great dentists around the world.

Additionally, I am trained in Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy (links to OMT Page) and can identify, reduce and eliminate floppy, flaccid (soft, weak, lax, lack of normal muscle tone) lips that account for lip incompetence in individuals.


My therapy also helps with:

  • correcting tongue thrusting during speech and swallowing
  •  repositioning the tongue at rest
  • establishing and stabilizing a normal resting posture of the lower jaw.

This combination helps reinforce the long-term stability in children that undergo orthodontics.

My Orofacial Myofunctional Therapy programs include:
1. Habit elimination therapy.
2. Exercises to improve nasal breathing and oral facial functions.
3. Teaching and promoting proper chewing, breathing, and swallowing.
4. Re-patterning head and neck posture problems.
5. Generalization and habituation of the new muscle patterns. 
6. Emotional balancing 


Parental involvement is very important to a child's success, and key to that success is a supportive environment that provides consistent encouragement and motivation necessary for positive and permanent change.

 

 

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