Opened-Mouth Posture

What Every Parent Must Know

Why be concerned about open-mouth posture?

Perhaps you have noticed that your child has a tendency to keep his mouth open most of the time? Most parents simply disregard this as a habit, and do not think much about it. In fact, why should they?

Sadly, most people do not know that open-mouth posture can have serious, permanent consequences for your child’s orofacial development, and dental development.

 

Research has shown that an open-mouth posture can result in an increased length of the face, droopy eyes, flat nasal area, short upper lip and a retruded chin.

 

Not only does an open-mouth posture alter the orofacial development of the face, it also negatively affects the dental eruption in children, causing an open-bite (space between the upper and lower teeth when the teeth are closed together)

 

 

(A)Normal face

(B) Physiological changes created by opened-mouth posture

 

Furthermore, an open-mouth posture is usually associated with a low resting tongue position. The tongue, which is normally resting alongside the roof of the mouth, drops to the floor of the mouth, and protrudes forward to allow better breathing. This tongue positioning usually causes pressure on selected teeth, also contributing to dental misalignment and to the development of a tongue thrust pattern of swallow.

People with open-mouth posture also usually alter their posture (slouch) to allow for increased air taking, and many parents complain that their child are “sloppy” eaters, keeping the mouth opened when chewing.

Opened-mouth posture can also cause an orthodontic relapse (teeth moving back after braces are removed). The lips are the teeth’s natural retainer. It is very likely that someone with incorrect lip and mouth posture will see teeth shifting after the removal of orthodontic appliances.

 

If open-mouth posture is so serious, why have I never heard about it?

Although the negative consequences of an open-mouth posture are well documented and repetitively stated in research, opened-mouth posture does not really fall in one specific discipline for diagnosis. Pediatricians, ENT, pediatric dentists, orthodontists, allergists all are aware of it, but unfortunately unable to address the issue.

 

Why is my child’s mouth opened in the first place?

Very often, an opened-mouth posture is the results of allergies, or enlarged tonsils or adenoids, limiting your child’s ability to breathe comfortably through his nose. It also can be linked to oral habits, such as thumb sucking, licking of the lips, nail biting, etc. Overtime, an opened-mouth posture becomes a habit.

 

My child’s opened-mouth posture is created by his large / crooked teeth. Won’t his orthodontic treatment fix it?

An open-mouth posture is often responsible for the over-eruption of selected teeth and malocclusions in the first place. As mentioned earlier, an open-mouth posture creates a low-resting tongue position and other habits that need to be corrected in order to retain orthodontic results. Without correct resting lip and tongue posture, it is likely that the teeth will move again to an unwanted position.

 

Who can help my child with his opened-mouth posture?

A multi-disciplinary team is needed for the treatment of open-mouth posture. Usually, an orofacial myologist will evaluate a child, and make referrals, if appropriate, to allergist, ENT, or other professionals to insure that your child does not breathe through his/her mouth because of enlarged adenoids or tonsils, deviated nasal septum, or allergies. Once your child can comfortably breathe through his nose, strengthening exercises, and teaching of the correct resting place of the tongue and lips is designed by the orofacial myologist, and an individual treatment plan is developed to meet your child’s need.

 

When should I have my child evaluated?

The earlier the better, but evaluation is especially important prior to the loss of baby teeth. If your child is older, it is also important to correct his mouth posture. As discussed earlier, opened-mouth posture has a negative cosmetic effect on the face, but people with open-mouth posture are often perceived as having low IQ, and can therefore have poor self-esteem. It also is related to periodontal disease later in life, and some research suggests it may also be linked to sleep apnea.

 

What if I am an adult and I have opened-mouth posture?

Good oral habits are important throughout life, and correcting your mouth posture might save you costly periodontal treatment, and improve your appearance.

Who should I contact?

Dr Brayden Weber is trained in treating Orofacial Myofunctional Disorders. We offers Orofacial Myofunctional treatment designed to address each patient’s individual needs. We recommend you book a consultation appointment with Dr. Brayden where he can assess for myofunctional disorders as well as orthodontic and dental concerns. Call us today for more information.

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