Dr. Dayan’s input on the dangers of mouth breathing in children was published in msn.com’s Better Health Magazine. In the article entitled, “100 Ways Your Home Could Be Making You Sick”, Dr. Dayan revealed that if a child becomes allergic to a family pet their nasal passages could become obstructed, forcing the child to breathe through their mouth. One effective remedy is to avoid keeping pets in the bedroom especially when the child is sleeping. This is very important in infants up to age 9 when the face and airway are developing. You can read the full article here.
The Most Common Reason Children’s Noses Get Stuffed Up
Currently we are having a Vitamin D Deficiency epidemic and most children are Vitamin D deficient. This deficiency causes nasal congestion and stuffy noses, forcing the child to breathe through the mouth. If a mother was Vitamin D deficient during her pregnancy, it is likely that the child was born with a Vitamin D deficiency as well. Children simply are not spending time outside in the sunshine like they should, and that is making the Vitamin D deficeincy worst.
The Dangers Of Mouth Breathing In Children
What are the dangers of mouth breathing in children, you might wonder. Mouth breathing is a risk factor for sleep apnea, sleep deprivation, ADHD, poor facial development and crooked teeth. The mouth closed and the tongue on the roof of the mouth is the key to proper development of the face, teeth and airway. As soon as the mouth opens during mouth breathing the tongue drops and the upper jaw starts to grow down instead of forward, the lower jaw grows back instead of forward to avoid being locked in by the upper teeth, the palate collapses and then so does the nose and airway. This can set up the child for a lifetime of problems with sleep, breathing, sleep apnea and expensive braces to straighten the teeth.
Developing children must have the right environment to be able to close the mouth, breathe through the nose and place the tongue against the roof of the mouth.
An Example Of The Dangers Of Mouth Breathing
Here is a patient of Dr. Mike Mew, a world famous orthodontist in London whose father developed the field of Orthotropics. This child’s face was developing normally (picture left) until he became allergic to a pet that slept in his bedroom and his nose became obstructed. Look at the dramatic change in his face (pictures middle and right) after he started breathing through his mouth instead of his nose! The upper jaw collapsed downward because the tongue was no longer up against the palate, the lower jaw grew too far back as it tried to keep from banging into the downward growing upper jaw. This child developed sleep apnea, sleep deprivation and crooked teeth all from a blocked nose. These are some of the dangers of mouth breathing. I highly recommend you take at look at Dr. Mike Mew’s website and You Tube Channel for great information on the dangers of mouth breathing and why teeth get crooked and children develop sleep apnea.
What Are The Signs Of Sleep Apnea And Sleep Deprivation In Children?
What is sleep apnea? It is when you stop breathing at night because your tongue and throat collapse, causing a blockage in airflow. The brain immediately wakes up because taking your next breath is the most fundamental function for our brains to carry out. To you , the parent, the child might look like they are asleep because their eyes are closed but the brain is awake. Some children wake up 50 times each hour when they have sleep apnea. Imagine if someone woke you up 50 times each hour? Would you feel cheerful and alert the next day or cranky, foggy and anxious?
Sleep apnea in children is a risk factor for ADHD, behavioral problems, poor grades, depression and anxiety.
Sleep apnea is not the only type of sleep disorder in children. All sleep disorders prevent the child from going into deep restorative sleep that is necessary for growth and function. It is the lack of deep sleep that prevents the child from growing normally and socializing and doing well in school. How can we expect children to do well in school and be well bahaved and make lots of friends if they are not sleeping? Sleep apnea and sleep deprivation cause the brain to become inflamed and may stunt brain development in children and lower their IQ, according to Dr David Gozal, a world expert on children’s sleep apnea. To read the disturbing but important article by Dr. Gozal, click here .
It is important to know that while snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, sleep deprived children don’t always snore, according to the Mayo Clinic. Other signs that might alert you, a parent, that your child is sleep deprived include bedwetting, mouth breathing, poor performance in school, hyperactivity and difficulty paying attention.
What Are The Root Causes Of Sleep Deprivation In Children and Adults?
Sleep deprivation is often a consequence of Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is a hormone that we make in our skin when we are in the sun. It is one of the most important hormones to regulate sleep. Vitamin D also helps the body to make Vitamin B which is also important for sleep. If you are deficient in Vitamin D you are most likely deficient in Vitamin B also.
If you observe mouth breathing, bedwetting, restlessness, poor grades, or difficulty making friends in your child, have your child tested for allergies, Vitamn D3 levels, Vitamin B 12 levels and request a sleep study as soon as possible. Early diagnosis is extrememly important to prevent problems with growth and brain development.
Did I Just Say That Bedwetting Is A Sign Of Sleep Deprivation?
Yes, one symptom of sleep apnea or poor sleep is bedwetting at night. How can this be? Here’s how.
Children who are sleep deprived due to Vitamin D deficieny produce more urine in their sleep because they don’t make Anti Diuretic Hormone. This is the hormone that we make at night so we don’t wake up to go to the bathroom and interrupt important deep sleep. Adults who are Vitamin D deficient also don’t make Anti Diuretic Hormone and may wake up a few times each night to go to the bathroom. But since sleep is so important to the growth and development of children, they have other chemicals that keep them in light sleep so they can’t wake up to walk to go to the bathroom. They just pee in bed instead. Studies have shown that treatment of Vitamin D and Vitamin B deficiencies in children improves the symptoms of bedwetting.
How Can I Help Your Child Who Is Mouth Breathing Or Bedwetting?
First, let’s figure out if you and your child are Vitamin D or B deficient. That is usually the best place to start. If your child is Vitamin D deficient and we are in the spring or summer seasons, let’s get them to play outside in the sunshine! A child’s life should not be about blood draws and pills. You can read my blog post on Vitamin D here.
If you yourself are also Vitamin D and B deficient we can work together to normalize your levels. This can take anywhere from 6 months to a year, since these hormones are much trickier to normalize in adults. If you are interested in having more children, or if you are having sleep problems yourself and feel tired all the time or suffer from frequent headaches, or you are grinding your teeth in your sleep, you will benefit tremendously by having your Vitamin D and B levels checked out.
Do not attempt to start Vitamin D and B supplementation without the guidance of a knowledgeable medical professional since overdosing can have very harmful consequences. I will work with your child’s physician to get the best possible result.
Chances are, if your child has been mouth breathing for a while the tongue muscles need to be repatterned to promote nasal breathing and establish the correct rest position on the roof of the mouth. We can do this with orofacial myofunctional therapy. These are isotonic and isometric exercises that help strengthen and stretch the muscles of the tongue, lips and throat to promote nose breathing. You can read more about these services by clicking here.
If your child is tongue tied and can not position the tongue on the roof of the mouth due to mobility restrictions I offer a simple release of any fascia under the tongue or lips to help your child establish nose breathing. You can read more about the transformative tongue tie release by clicking here.
If you would like a Video Visit with me to see if I can help your child get better sleep, grow normally and be more relaxed , click here to schedule an video appointment.
You can also call the office at 310-205-0900 or send an email by filling out the contact form below. I look forward to meeting you!