How is the mouth breather's face fixed

jaw pain from wisdom teeth

Do you know that?

Every day, we inhale between 12,000 and 36,000 liters of air through our noses, depending on our weight and effort. That's almost the amount of air needed to inflate a castle.
Normal breathing is done exclusively through the nose. Breathing through the mouth may seem normal to you, but it can be harmful to your oral and general health in the short and long term. Among the symptoms, the face is the first to be affected.

Facial signs that prove you are a mouth breather

The first sign you should notice on your face when you are a mouth breather is the appearance of dark circles. These dark circles have nothing to do with a lack of sleep, but, they are due to the lack of oxygen in the nose area, resulting in a bluish color under the eyes.

Another sign is an open mouth. Mouth breathing is usually established in early childhood. When we are used to breathing through the mouth, it becomes a hard habit to break. We do not even recognize it, which makes the situation worse. That is why it is recommended in rehabilitation sessions to practice mindfulness while breathing. It helps to switch to nasal breathing.

Further, breathing has an important role in facial growth, especially on the lower face.
You are probably wondering what the connection is? The tongue is one of the most powerful muscles of the face. It alone contains 17 muscles, so imagine the growth impact it will have.

When we breathe through our nose, the tongue is placed behind the upper incisors, on the palate, which will stimulate the growth of the upper jaw. However, when we breathe through the mouth, the tongue is placed in a low position, the upper jaw will not be stimulated and will be narrow, while the lower jaw will grow normally, which will create an imbalance in the face.

The more time passes, the more serious it becomes because the upper jaw will not be wide enough to accommodate the tongue. The upper teeth will not find room either, resulting in crowding.

Also, the nasal cavity and maxillary sinuses will not be stimulated by nasal breathing either, resulting in a pinched nose.

In mouth breathers, the tongue is in a low position. It will apply pressure on the front teeth or even get in between them when biting, resulting in an open bite.

If the mouth breathing is not fixed, it can lead to long face syndrome. Among its symptoms:
  • Increased height of the lower face.
  • The upper jaw is narrow.
  • The roof of the mouth is triangular and deep.
  • Gingival smile.
  • Short upper lip.
  • Open lips.
  • The upper and lower teeth may not touch when the mouth is closed. This malocclusion is called the open bite.
  • Weak jawline and receding chin.

Effects of mouth breathing on the face include:
  • Appearance of dark circles
  • Open mouth
  • Narrowed upper jaw and normal lower jaw resulting in long face syndrome
  • Narrow nose
  • Overlapped front teeth
  • Open bite

How to know if you are a mouth breather

Sometimes it's hard to tell, especially if you're used to breathing through your mouth at night.
The signs to look for are:

  • Red, inflamed, and bleeding gums, even with good oral hygiene.
  • A dry mouth.
  • Frequent cavities.
  • Bad breath.
  • When you wake up, you notice dryness and itching in the back of your throat, fatigue, and headaches.
  • A pinched nose and dark circles.
  • Crowded teeth.
  • Speech problems: Difficulty making clear, easy-to-understand « S » and « Z » sounds.
  • Digestive issues: Mouth breathers find it difficult to chew while breathing, resulting in maldigestion.

If you have any doubts, talk to your doctor. He will do multiple tests to identify if you are a mouth breather.

How to fix the mouth-breather face and restore nasal breathing in children and adults?

The tongue during growth is an essential factor in allowing nasal breathing, thus promoting harmonious facial growth.

In children, the goal of treatment is to restore a correct tongue position to promote nasal breathing and stimulate upper jaw growth. In case of deformities caused by mouth breathing, the orthodontic treatment will exploit the remaining growth potential to enlarge the upper jaw.

Just like a plant that has leaned during its growth, the faster you act, the better the treatment results.

It is a little different in adults since there is no more growth. Extractions may be necessary to compensate for the lack of space.
If the deformity is severe (very long face and very narrow upper jaw), the remaining solution is maxillofacial surgery followed by an appliance to widen the upper jaw.

Treatment in children

In a 2015 study, 26% of children are mouth breathers!

Changing the way you breathe as an adult is a headache because the habit is tough, and the jaw deformities support the low position of the tongue. It is, therefore, better to act as soon as possible.
The first thing to do is to check if there is any obstacle that prevents nasal breathing. Among these obstacles :
  • Nasal congestion due to allergy, sinusitis, deviated septum, tumor.
  • Enlarged adenoids.
  • Enlarged tonsils.

Sometimes it will be necessary to perform surgery (removal of the vegetations and/or tonsils) or to treat an allergy.

Once the upper airway is clear, early orthodontics can stimulate upper jaw growth if oral breathing deformities already exist. This will allow the upper jaw to widen so that it can receive the tongue, which will promote nasal breathing and, therefore, optimal face growth.
Among the orthodontic appliances used to enlarge the palate:

palatal expander

Quad Helix

The Quad Helix is a fixed appliance glued to the molars with a ring and used to widen the palate and restore a healthy growth of the jaws. It will also create space for the permanent teeth to appear correctly.
The duration of the treatment is usually 6 months, but once the results are obtained, the appliance must be left in place to stabilize the results.

Removable palate expander

Also used to widen the palate, the only difference with the Quad Helix is that it is removable, and the price is much lower.
The orthodontist will have to increase the pressure 1 to 2 times a week.

The appliance will be uncomfortable for the first two days, especially for the tongue.
As the teeth begin to move, they will be sensitive to pressure. Discomfort or even mild to moderate pain may be felt in the days following the activation of the appliance, especially at mealtimes.
The discomfort is temporary and requires a period of adaptation. (It is possible to take an analgesic 30 min before meals)

Once the jaw growth is corrected, simple devices allow the child to abandon his bad habits.
They will allow the brain to assimilate new habits to ensure proper tongue position. Rehabilitation success depends on the child's behavior, motivation, and family environment.
Among the different appliances used to maintain a correct tongue posture:

Tongue guard

tongue guard to correct tongue posture

It is attached to the upper jaw and used for children who have a habit of sucking their thumb or other fingers or whose tongue puts excessive pressure on the front teeth. The purpose of the appliance is to try to eliminate these habits that can affect teeth alignment.

Night guards for a proper tongue position

lingual night enveloppe to correct tongue posture

Indicated to correct the tongue posture. The necessary duration of use is very different from one person to another. It must be for at least six months and can extend over the entire treatment period.
It must be worn every night and at least one hour a day.

Tongue spikes braces

tongue spikes braces

They consist of metal elements attached to the back of the lower incisors. They prevent the tongue from passing between the teeth and unconsciously train the child to correct his tongue position.

Treatment in adult

Treatment in adults depends on the severity of the mouth breathing. Your doctor will:

-Ask questions about your quality of sleep, whether you have a dry mouth and throat when you wake up, or if you suffer from gum inflammation.
-Do visual tests: He will look for the facial signs of mouth breathing (dark circles, open mouth, long face).
-A Breathing Examination: He or she will ask you to breathe out onto a mirror and then inspect the spots on the mirror to see if there is an asymmetry between the two nostrils. He or she may also ask you to breathe through your nose for 20 seconds and see if you felt any discomfort or breathed through your mouth.

The first treatment step of mouth breathing in adults is to clear the upper airway.
Certain medications can help treat nasal congestion, such as nasal decongestants, antihistamines, and over-the-counter steroidal nasal sprays.
Sometimes tonsil surgery or septoplasty (correction of a deviated septum when it causes nasal obstruction) may be necessary.

If you breathe through your mouth at night, your doctor may prescribe an anti-snoring device or a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure therapy) that delivers air to your nose and mouth through a mask. These devices promote nasal breathing and help you breathe optimally at night. They can be combined with a nasal dilator or humidifier if you have a dry mouth.

Adult tongue and breathing rehabilitation are active, meaning that you will need to participate in the rehabilitation through voluntary exercises without using passive devices.

palatal expansion in adults

In adults, facial bone deformities caused by mouth breathing are irreversible. They are usually treated surgically because there is no longer any growth potential.
The palate will first be separated into two parts, and then an orthodontic appliance will be fixed for a progressive widening.

How teeth crowding is fixed in mouth breathers

open bite

Mouth breathing will affect the alignment of the teeth due to the excessive pressure exerted by the tongue on the front teeth and the lack of space due to a narrow jaw, which causes the teeth to become crowded.

The most common malocclusion in mouth breathers is the open bite. People who have an anterior open bite have front upper and lower teeth that slant outward, so they don't touch when the mouth is closed.
There are 3 ways to treat the open bite:

Changing bad habits

This option applies to children who have not yet replaced their temporary teeth or who have permanent teeth that have not fully erupted.
Changing bad habits, including thumb and lips sucking and mouth breathing, may be enough to correct the open bite spontaneously.

Braces with or without premolar extraction

In adults who have grown all their teeth, a combination of braces and behavior modification is recommended. Extractions may be considered to create space.

Jaw surgery

maxillofacial surgery to fix the open bite
In cases of severe open bite, maxillofacial surgery may be necessary to align the upper teeth with the lower teeth.

Why is nasal breathing important?

Breathing through the nose is important because it filters the inhaled air and prevents dust and dirt particles from entering the body.

Nasal breathing helps regulate the air temperature before it reaches the lungs.

In addition, by breathing through the nose, the air temperature is regulated by the body temperature before it reaches the lungs. When the outside air is cold, it is warmed, and when it is hot, the inhaled air is cooled and humidified as it passes through the nose.

Moreover, nasal breathing ensures better oxygenation of the organs with a rate higher than 15%, thanks to nitric oxide.
This molecule forms in the paranasal sinuses and is automatically transported to the lungs when we breathe through the nose.
Nitric oxide also helps widen blood vessels and facilitates oxygen saturation of the blood. The organs are then better supplied with oxygen, the body regenerates better, and the quality of sleep is better.

Causes of mouth breathing

The main cause of mouth breathing is a partial or total nasal obstruction.
The risk factors of nasal obstruction include:
  • Cold, sinus infection or allergies.
  • Enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids.
  • A deviated septum.
  • Nasal polyps or tumors (rare).
  • Other oral conditions such as crowded teeth.

Adults and the elderly may breathe through their mouths after taking some medications. Stress and anxiety are also important factors to consider. They activate the sympathetic nervous system, which causes abnormal breathing.

Mouth breathing effects

the effects of mouth breathing on your oral and general health

Effects on your oral health

One of the most common effects of mouth breathing is dry mouth. Saliva plays an important role in maintaining good oral health because it:
  • Protects our teeth against bacteria and plaque by preventing them from attaching to teeth surfaces;
  • Reduces the number of unwanted bacteria in our mouth;
  • Protects our gums;
  • Regulate mouth acidity.

As a result, mouth breathers are more likely to suffer from cavities and gum disease.
When saliva is insufficient, the composition of the oral flora is disturbed, and the bacteria that produce bad odors multiply, which causes halitosis.

Effects on your general health


Our noses filter the air we breathe, preventing many viruses/bacteria from entering. Therefore, people who breathe through their mouths are more likely to get upper respiratory infections.

Mouth breathing and COVID-19

Studies have shown that nasal breathing can help reduce the viral load of SARS-CoV-2 and the symptoms of COVID-19 pneumonia by promoting more effective antiviral defense mechanisms in the airways.

Sleep disorder

People who breathe through their mouths have poor sleep quality because they snore more and are constantly thirsty. In addition, mouth breathing has a 15% lower oxygenation rate than nasal breathing, making the sleep less restful.

Difficulty eating

People who breathe through their mouths have difficulty chewing food because they have to block their breathing during this time. This can affect the way they eat and cause digestive problems.