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What are the implications of an opened-mouth posture?

The way we breathe is not typically given much thought. It seems to be a mindless, subconscious habit. However, there is nothing more important to the human body than breathing! It is important that it is done efficiently. Many fail to realize that the way we breathe actually has a ripple affect on many of our body systems! An opened-mouth posture can have serious, permanent consequences. When the lips are parted even the slightest amount, the airway takes the path of least resistance and mouth breathing occurs. Mouth breathing can affect the dental development and orofacial growth of children. When the mouth is open, the tongue drops to a low-lying position, touching the teeth. The tongue is a strong muscle and will slowly move, crowd, and misalign the teeth over time. When the mouth remains open, it reduces the moisture in the oral cavity and can lead to exacerbated decay and periodontal disease. 

Mouth breathing also leads to decreased oxygen consumption in the body. This is linked to poor sleep, lower energy, and difficulty feeling refreshed throughout the day.

In children, research has shown that an opened-mouth posture can result in changes in the craniofacial structure. Studies show that habitual mouth breathers tend to exhibit an increased length of the face, droopy eyes, dark circles around the eyes, flattened nasal area, short upper lip, a droopy lower lip and a retruded chin.  

An opened-mouth posture can cause teeth to move back into misalignment after braces are removed. The correct tongue position is at the roof of the mouth. If the tongue is not held in this position at rest, it fails to act as the mouth's natural retainer, guiding a healthy palatal arch and airway.

An opened-mouth posture also affects the posture of the head and neck. In an attempt to open the airway, those with an opened-mouth posture will hold their heads in a forward position. Because of this postural change, undue pressure is distributed in the neck and back and adults will often report pain and tension in these areas.

When mouth breathing occurs, very important benefits of nasal breathing are bypassed. The nasal passage serves as our body's natural filtration system for our airway. The mucous and hair in our noses serve to filter out the environments pollutants to prevent inhalation. When this vital system is bypassed, it causes higher incidents of allergies, asthmas and colds. 

Patient Education: Resources


Lingual Frenuloplasty With Myofunctional Therapy: Exploring Safety and Efficacy in 348 Cases

Myofunctional Therapy to Treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Prevalence of pacifier-sucking habits and successful methods to eliminate them

Six Red Flags for Pediatric Sleep Disordered Breathing

Effect of Tongue Thrust Swallowing on Position of Anterior Teeth

Defining ankyloglossia: a case series of anterior and posterior tongue ties.

Ankyloglossia as a risk factor for maxillary hypoplasia and soft palate elongation: A functional–morphological study.

Lingual and Maxillary Labial Frenuloplasty with Myofunctional Therapy as a Treatment for Mouth Breathing and Snoring

Toward a functional definition of ankyloglossia: validating current grading scales for lingual frenulum length and tongue mobility in 1052 subjects.

What is sleep apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea: focus on myofunctional therapy

Patient Education: List
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