How Mouth Breathing Changes Your Face

Mouth breathing is not the body’s natural or default way of breathing. The correct, natural way to breathe is through the nose. Every once in a while, you may breathe through your mouth when you are sick, have allergies, or otherwise suffer from decongestion. Breathing through your mouth for a few days while you’re sick isn’t cause for concern, but years of doing it can cause many health effects, including changing the shape of your face. Keep reading to learn more about the effects of mouth breathing and how mouth breathing can change your face.

How Does Mouth Breathing Start?

Breathing through the nose is the correct way to breathe. If there is a blockage preventing the airways from opening, the body will resort to mouth breathing as a means of survival. Wondering what could cause mouth breathing to begin? There are many things that could be at play, including:

  • Allergies
  • Asthma
  • Colds
  • Deviated nasal septum
  • Enlarged tonsils
  • Enlarged adenoids
  • History of finger or thumb-sucking
  • History of pacifier use
  • Sinus polyps
  • Choanal Atresia
  • Cleft palate
  • Pierre Robin Syndrome
  • Tongue tie

A person who regularly breathes through their mouth will have a host of other symptoms alongside it. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Being a loud, noisy eater
  • Bad breath
  • Hoarse voice
  • Dental issues
  • Speech issues

Why is Mouth Breathing Bad?

If you or your child is a mouth breather, don’t write it off as being just a silly habit. Being a mouth breather can lead to some serious health complications. Finding the root cause of your mouth breathing and treating it is the only way to prevent further issues. Chronic mouth breathing not associated with a cold or allergies generally does not go away on it’s own. It requires treatment in order to clear the blockage to allow your nose to breathe normally again.

Some health complications that can arise from being a chronic mouth breather include lower-quality oxygen, sleep apnea, and TMJ disorders.

Lower-Quality Oxygen

Breathing through the nose is important because the nose acts like a filter for the body. It weeds out allergens, particles, toxins, bacteria, viruses, and more before they enter the lungs. This works through the nose’s hair follicles and the mucus that is lined throughout the nasal cavity.

When a person breathes through their mouth consistently, they are allowing lower-quality oxygen into their lungs and bloodstream. All those allergens, toxins, and more that would normally be filtered out by the nose are going directly into the mouth and lungs and are not filtered.

Lower-quality oxygen can lead to health issues such as:

  • Obesity
  • Difficulty losing weight
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Chronic colds
  • Bad breath
  • Periodontal diseases such as cavities and gum disease
  • Frequent throat and ear infections
  • Poor growth
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cardiovascular issues

Sleep Apnea

Mouth breathing can quickly lead to sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a common condition in which your breathing stops and restarts many times while you sleep. This can prevent your body from getting enough oxygen. You may want to talk to your healthcare provider about sleep apnea if someone tells you that you snore or gasp during sleep or if you experience other symptoms of poor-quality sleep, such as excessive daytime sleepiness.

Obstructive sleep apnea happens when your upper airway becomes blocked many times while you sleep, reducing or completely stopping airflow. This is the most common type of sleep apnea. Anything that could narrow your airway, such as obesity, large tonsils, or changes in your hormone levels, can increase your risk for obstructive sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can occur in anyone of any age, even children, especially if they are chronic mouth breathers.

TMJ Disorders

Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a group of more than 30 conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and muscles that control jaw movement. “TMDs” refers to the disorders, and “TMJ” refers only to the temporomandibular joint itself. People have two TMJs, one on each side of the jaw. You can feel them by placing your fingers in front of your ears and opening your mouth.

There are three main classes of TMDs:

  1. Disorders of the joints, including disc disorders
  2. Disorders of the muscles used for chewing (masticatory muscles)
  3. Headaches associated with a TMD

Symptoms of TMJ disorders include:

  • Pain in the muscles and/or joints of the jaw
  • Pain that spreads throughout the face and neck
  • Jaw stiffness
  • Inability to open wide without pain
  • Clicking noises
  • Popping noises
  • Jaw grating
  • Issues with hearing, such as hearing loss or tinnitus
  • Dizziness
  • Migraine-like headaches
  • A change in the way the teeth fit together

As a mouth breather, your jaw is making unnatural movements in order to breathe full time. This will cause your jaw to become overworked, your teeth and jaw misaligned, and result in a TMJ disorder.

How Does Mouth Breathing Change Your Face?

One of the major side effects of mouth breathing, especially in children, is the fact that it can affect their appearance. The way the face develops, grows, and takes shape can be severely impacted by mouth breathing. Some of the ways the face changes due to mouth breathing include:

  • Sunken eyes
  • Crooked nose
  • Receding chin
  • Overbite
  • Narrow face
  • Poor posture
  • Crooked teeth
  • Poor cheekbone definition
  • Forward head posture

Can Mouth Breathing Be Treated?


Gorman Health and Wellness uses the myobrace treatment in children. This treatment uses myofunctional orthodontic techniques to address the poor oral habits (known as myofunctional habits) that are the real, underlying causes of crooked teeth. It uses light and intermittent forces to align the teeth. Myofunctional orthodontic techniques have been practiced by Orthodontists and Dentists around the world for over 50 years.

The treatment is done through the use of a series of removable dental appliances that are worn for just 1-2 hours each day and overnight while sleeping. Daily use of the Myobrace combined with regular activities (to improve breathing, muscle function, and tongue posture) results in straighter teeth and improved function, leading to optimal facial development and a healthier smile.

In addition, addressing the root cause of mouth breathing should be considered. Some common causes for both pediatric sleep apnea and mouth breathing include large tonsils and adenoids, so checking to see if you need those removed first can help with all your symptoms.

My Child is a Mouth Breather. Should I Worry?

If your child is a mouth breather, it is important to see a doctor. Mouth breathing is not the natural way to breathe, and there is something causing your child’s nose to not breathe properly. Seeing a specialist, such as Gorman Health and Wellness, can help get your child on the path to breathing properly through their nose and avoid changes to the growth and development of their face.

Pediatric Sleep Apnea

As mentioned, sleep apnea can occur at any age, even young children. Mouth breathing is a hallmark symptom of sleep apnea.

Other symptoms of pediatric sleep apnea, according to Yale, include:

  • Snoring, often with pauses, snorts, or gasps between breaths
  • Heavy breathing while sleeping
  • Extremely restless sleep
  • Bedwetting (especially if a child previously stayed dry at night)
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Behavioral problems that mimic the symptoms of ADHD

If your child is having any of the above symptoms, it is important to perform a sleep test as soon as possible to receive the sleep apnea diagnosis. Afterward, Gorman Health and Wellness can help your child recover from sleep apnea without needing a CPAP machine.

At Gorman Health and Wellness, we are committed to finding our patients the best possible long-term treatment for sleep apnea issues. Our treatment employs a multidisciplinary treatment plan that uses noninvasive, cost-effective oral appliance technology prescribed by our trained dentists and medical professionals to treat dentofacial abnormalities and/or mild-to-moderate OSA and snoring. In fact, our office is one of the very few in the Los Angeles area who prescribe it. This revolutionary treatment is called The Vivos Method.

Unlike virtually every other nonsurgical treatment for OSA, which requires nightly lifetime intervention, studies show that patients undergoing treatment with our Vivos doctors have an average treatment time of about 12 months.

Mouthbreathing Treatment with Gorman Health and Wellness

Dr. Gorman is a part of the breathing wellness movement, which aims to increase awareness and improve treatment for sleep-related airway conditions like sleep apnea. He has partnered with organizations focused on collaborating with dentists to apply the sciences of Craniofacial Epigenetics (the study of cranial modifications caused by gene expression as opposed to genetic code alteration) and Pneumopedics® (the practical application of oral appliance therapy and non-surgical airway remodeling) in the management of sleep apnea.

The application of these sciences allows for underlying causes of airway obstruction to be treated in 98% of cases, resulting in a high success rate among sleep apnea patients. For every sleep apnea case at our practice, Dr. Gorman will gather patient data and determine the patient’s specific needs based on home sleep test results, dental impressions, CT scans, and images. Our state-of-the-art technology, paired with Dr. Gorman’s experience with sleep disorders, allows him to find the most effective treatment plan for each individual’s particular case, yielding improved daytime and nighttime breathing for the patient.

“I have been helping people suffering from Sleep Apnea with a non-invasive, clinically approved treatment method. This method has allowed my patients to sleep with far fewer events per hour allowing them to get rid of their CPAP and BiPAP machines. Imagine not having to use one of those machines, getting back a much greater quality of life along with the benefits of being able to breathe better.” – Dr. Gorman.

For more information on Dr. Gorman, improving you or your child’s mouth breathing issues, and to hear more about treatment for sleep apnea without the use of a CPAP machine, contact us today.

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