Close your mouth and breathe through your nose. Notice where your tongue is resting. Is it pressing forward? Is it resting between your teeth? Touching your teeth? Is it resting on the floor or the roof of your mouth? Are you having trouble just doing this simple task because you can’t breathe through your nose?
Most patients and parents have no idea open mouth breathing and the position of the lips and tongue (called oral posture) could be the major cause of numerous problems affecting not only their oral health but their overall health as well.
When you breathe through your nose, the air is warmed, humidified, and filtered. Therefore, enters the lungs with less impurities. When you breathe through your mouth, it is not filtered and reaches the lungs full of impurities. Mouth breathing leads to a diminished strength of the muscles in the cheeks, lips, jaw, and tongue.
As the person continually leaves their mouth open, the mandible becomes retruded and there is a more forward oral rest posture of the tongue. This leads to changes in aesthetics, position of the teeth/occlusion (improper fit of the teeth), and an elongated face. As the tongue rests forward and down in the mouth, it spends less time up against the palate (“roof of the mouth”). This causes the palate to become narrow and/or deep, resulting in teeth crowding and malocclusion. Another major alteration is the change in the head’s postural position. When the tongue is resting improperly on the floor of the mouth, the head will go forward to seek a larger space to breathe better. This results in forward head posture and alterations in the muscles of the face, neck, and back.