Mouth Breathing May Have Adverse Effect on Facial Growth


Many of us may know that breathing through the nose, and not mouth, is the right way to breath. Nose breathing has several benefits to the body, such as warming the air to optimal temperature, moisturizing the air taken in to the lungs, stimulating release of odiferous molecules and increasing the sense of smell. But what many of us may not know is that mouth breathing could have adverse effect to facial features and growth in children.

According to Dr. Yosh Jefferson of Yosh Jefferson, DMD & Associates on Jew Jersey, children who mouth breath may “develop long, narrow faces, narrow mouths” and “many other unattractive facial features”. Dr. Jefferson describes an experiment conducted to determine the effect of mouth breathing. For this experiment, latex plugs were inserted in the nasal passages of rhesus monkeys, which forced them to change from nasal to oral respiration. This change in breathing pattern led to a variety of skeletal and dental deformities such as significant increase in distance from nasion to hard palate, steepening of the lower border of mandible and an increase in the gonial angle which resulted in long faces. The skeletal and dental deformities in these animals are particularly significant because they do not develop facial abnormalities under natural conditions.

In addition to the facial structure, mouth breathing children do not sleep well, which affects their growth and academic performance. Many of these children are also misdiagnosed with attention deficit disorder (ADD) and hyperactivity. This misdiagnosis could end up in psychotropic medication with many potential side effects.

Why do people mouth-breath?

There are many reasons that would cause people to mouth breath. It could be caused due to the physical body structure of the individual – the positioning of the jaws, nasal passage etc. or temporary health condition like cold, which results in stuffy nose. It could also be just habitual.

What could you do?

Habitual mouth breathing happens when a person inhales and exhales air through the mouth when the nose is sufficiently free. One needs to consciously avoid mouth breathing (or be reminded by parents, in case of children) to close their mouth and breath through their nose. (Some people even claim that using duct tape to cover their mouth during sleep for a few days works!). When one has stuffy nose due to cold or other reason, one could find remedies to improve the condition so that they can breathe well through their nose.

The physical shape and structure of the individual can be more challenging to overcome. Dentists (such as Dr. Jefferson) recommend medical intervention from a young age (as young as 5 year old) so that the shape of mouth be screened and treated. Read this published article for more information:

A more natural method of improving the breath is to practice yoga regularly. Practicing pranayama and yogic postures help improve the health of the respiratory system. It increases the vital capacity in individuals and strengthens and frees the nasal passage that helps in better breathing.

Another natural option is to try orafacial myofunctional therapy, which is the “neuromuscular re-education or re-patterning of the oral and facial muscles1”. This consists of facial and tongue exercises and behavior modification to improve proper tongue position, improve breathing, chewing and swallowing and head and neck postures. This is a highly individualized re-education program, so it is best to talk to a myotherapist (look up for therapists on the site: Many of them would consult over phone or skype. Here is couple of things that everyone could do so, as recommended by Dr. Mercola:

  1. Sleep on your back, as this helps your posture and helps open up your airway
  2. Eat unrefined food so that you chew well exercising your mouth and jaws


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  • Adrian Chadrik

    Personally, I find that nose breathing sometimes increases anxiety, whereas if I am conscious that I am mouth breathing I notice that it is because it relaxes me.