Should I Be Concerned if My Child Snores or Is a Mouth Breather?

Should I Be Concerned if My Child Snores or Is a Mouth Breather?

Why you should get your child evaluated if she snores

While you might think it’s cute that your young child snores like Mommy or Daddy, that sleep habit could cause potential health problems down the line. Snoring and mouth breathing are breathing issues that are associated with high blood pressure, heart problems, and diabetes in adults. But don’t worry: There are things you can do for your child now to help her breath through her nose—and things you can do as an adult if you (or your partner) snores.

If your child snores or breathes through his mouth when he sleeps, ask his pediatrician or dentist to give his airways a thorough assessment to help ensure he looks and feels healthy into adulthood. Snoring like Mommy or Daddy may seem cute, but it may lead to numerous health issues later in life. Breathing issues in adults are associated with high blood pressure, heart problems, strokes, and diabetes. Sadly, these are often the result of airway deviations that started developing when these patients were as young as 2 years old. 

There’s never been a better time to assess your child’s breathing concerns as well as your own. Make it a family project to improve your breathing, so you may all enjoy the benefits.

RELATED: The Importance of Healthy Sleep for Families 
      

Mouth breathing may be the root cause to some common childhood ailments.

Modern lifestyles are putting young children at risk. They are eating so many soft foods that their muscles don’t have to work as hard as previous generations. Lack of breast-feeding may also have a negative impact on developing jaw structures. Also, exposure to pesticides and herbicides may cause airway inflammation. 

If your child is assessed and determined to have good lip closure and a good swallow, and is breathing through her nose, then chances are good that her airway will develop normally. But mouth breathing in children contributes to a deviated septum and arched palate. Mouth breathers may be sick more often because they lose a lot of the immune benefits of nitric oxide, which is created in the nasal sinuses. 

Children routinely get their hearing and eyes assessed, but breathing is often overlooked. That’s why I encourage parents to get a pediatric evaluation of their child’s airway when the child is 2-5 years old. If there is a problem, it is something that needs to be addressed right away.

In addition to mouth breathing, other signs that children may be starting to develop airway issues include:

  • Their lips are apart when at rest and/or strain when they are together. 
  • There is a forward head posture. Kids may do this because it helps open the airway.
  • You see a high narrow palate and/or a scalloped tongue when looking into their mouth.
  • They are developing a long face, flat cheeks, a weak chin, and/or a gummy smile.
  • They have poor facial symmetry.
  • They sound nasal when they speak.
  • They are having speech and/or hearing difficulties.
                

What can parents do if their child is a mouth breather?

Parents should aim to break the child’s habit of mouth breathing so his facial structures will develop normally. In addition to an assessment by a medical professional, concentrate on teaching your child to breathe through her nose, and encourage her to sleep on her side.

RELATED: Common Sleep Disorders in Children and How to Cure Them
     

What if you’re an adult suffering from breathing issues?

While the optimal time to evaluate airway issues is as a child, one is never too old to get an evaluation and improve airflow through the nose. There are lots of options available.

Approximately 30 million Americans need help opening their nasal passages. As with all things medial-related, don’t try to self-diagnose or treat the issue without an evaluation. That being said, if I see that a patient has a small nasal pathway, I suggest using a nasal dilator such as Mute, which is safe to use in ages 12 and older. Mute is anatomically shaped to sit comfortably inside the nose. It gently expands the nasal passages and increases the volume of air traveling through the nose, making nasal breathing easier to achieve. When my patients try Mute, they can’t believe how great it feels. It’s inconspicuous and easy to use, and people don’t mind wearing them. In fact, many of my patients prefer Mute to surgery, so I send them to their local drugstore to buy them.