How Tongue Thrust and Mouth Breathing Affect Facial Structure

Most people don’t give a second of thought to how they breathe or swallow. And when it comes to their kids, parents often assume that if their child is breathing and swallowing, all is well. But the truth is that the way we breathe and swallow really does matter. Breathing and swallowing impact speech development, how our facial structure forms, and our overall health. But how can this be possible? Isn’t the ability to breathe and swallow alone enough?

What is mouth breathing?

Mouth breathing occurs when someone has the inability to breathe through their nose. Though this is common when we are congested or ill, some people breathe through their mouths for other reasons. Enlarged adenoids or tonsils are also a leading contributor to mouth breathing. But when we don’t breathe properly and breathe primarily through our mouths, it can cause sleep disorders and other health issues. 

Mouth breathing impacts the absorption of oxygen into the system, having a negative impact on our immune system, posture, focus, overall health, and mood. Further, mouth breathing can alter your facial structure as well as the development of the face and jaw.

How does mouth breathing affect facial structure?

It stands to reason that you might not have considered how mouth breathing can impact your face. But, if you breathe through your mouth more than your nose, it can cause narrowing of the face and lessened definition throughout your cheekbones. When you breathe through your mouth, the tendency is to tilt the head backwards, and this can result in changes to your posture as well as the shape of your face and neck.

In some situations, a dentist will prescribe the use of a myobrace. This device is part of a preventive pre-orthodontic treatment that solves the underlying causes of misaligned or crooked teeth. Proper use of a myobrace can help encourage proper breathing and prevent misalignment of the facial structure.

What is proper tongue posture?

If you have ever bitten your tongue and experienced the painful sensation that occurs immediately after, you have likely wondered how you bit your tongue in the first place. After all, isn’t your tongue supposed to naturally stay out of the way without you having to give it a second thought? Well, unfortunately, that is not always the case. More people have improper tongue positioning than we might realize and, though it might sound a bit odd, there really is good tongue positioning and bad tongue positioning.

Proper tongue positioning occurs when you rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth, away from your teeth. Your lips should remain closed and your teeth slightly parted inside. The team at My Chico Dentist encourages patients to practice proper tongue positioning to protect teeth from shifting, improve sleep, reduce neck and jaw pain, and lessen the risk or intensity of migraines and headaches.

What is myofunctional therapy?

In some cases, we recommend an exercise-based therapy called myofunctional therapy for patients with chronic mouth breathing or those that have improper tongue positioning. The exercises included in myofunctional therapy help improve speaking, chewing, swallowing, and of course, breathing. Those who practice myofunctional therapy often see an improvement in the following ailments:

  • Snoring.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Upper airway resistance syndrome
  • Temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
  • Orthodontic relapse.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Neck pain.
  • Systemic health issues, such as high blood pressure, mental confusion, memory problems, basic aches and pains, and more.

When mouth breathing is caught early on, it can reduce the risks that sleep apnea and snoring will be a problem later in life. Those who suffer from mouth breathing are much more likely to have chronic jaw pain and headaches. Not only that, but mouth breathers are more likely to also experience dental issues, postural problems, and other health conditions. Therefore, if you or your child is mouth breathing, now is the time to seek help from a dental professional.

Is mouth breathing or tongue thrust a problem for you or your child?

If you or your child are chronic mouth breathers or have improper tongue positioning, now is the time to see your My Chico Dentist or local family dentist. Getting on top of these challenges now can make things much easier for you in the long run, and will have a positive effect on your overall health, not to mention your oral health. I

f you live or work in the Chico, California, area, come see why patients claim we are the best in dental care around. During your visit we’ll review your medical and dental history, conduct an oral examination and dental cleaning, and discuss mitigation techniques for your mouth breathing or tongue thrust. Before long, you’ll wish you had come to see us sooner. So, request an appointment today!

We Can’t Wait to Meet You

Call 530-893-8913 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.