What to Do When Children Breathe Through Their Mouths

If your little one has a cough, sinusitis, snores, or his or her teeth are crooked, you might be looking at a mouth breather. Don't worry, today we'll tell you what you need to know about this condition.
What to Do When Children Breathe Through Their Mouths

Last update: 23 January, 2019

Breathing through the mouth is a common habit among children. In almost every case, this has to do with an obstructed airway, which should be treated. So, the question is, what should parents do if their children breathe through their mouths?

Breathing is a process that is vital to life. Breathing incorrectly has a negative impact and produces alterations like sleep apnea, coughing and crooked teeth. These are just a few of the problems that can arise.

Today we want to share information on this issue, so you’ll learn to identify the causes of this bad habit. You’ll also discover some of the treatments recommended by pediatric pulmonologists. .

When children only breathe through their mouths

The respiratory system fulfills various functions that help to maintain balance within our bodies. Its efficient workings have a direct impact on keeping us alive and healthy.

As for children who breathe through their mouth, the issue is particular. Of course, sometimes breathing through the mouth is necessary. This doesn’t negatively affect their bodies if they alternate with nasal breathing.

However, it’s clear that only breathing in and out through the mouth can indicate specific pathologies and lead to others.

The respiratory system’s process that is linked to moving air within the lungs is called ventilation. This occurs in cycles in which humans inhale in order to take air in, and exhale to let it out.

This is all based on an automatic action carried out by the neurons, who send orders to the nerves to activate this mechanism.

All human beings are born conditioned to carry out the process of ventilation through our noses to assist this process.

Based on the above, if a child is unable to execute this process that the body carries out unconsciously, an anomaly is present. We can deduce that there is an obstruction in one of several parts of the breathing apparatus.

What to Do When Children Breathe Through Their Mouths

Why do children breathe through their mouths?

The reasons why children breathe through their mouths can vary. It might be the result of some passing event, such as nasal congestion from a cold or hay fever. It can also be from obstruction issues such as enlarged tonsils.

These are just some of the reasons why children breathe through their mouths. Below are some of the most frequent causes of this issue:

  • Deviated septum or obstructions in the area.
  • Issues related to muscle hypotonia, or low muscle tone in the face.
  • Issues with a child’s bite that cause the child to keep his or her mouth open.
  • Enlarged adenoids.
  • Enlarged tonsils.
  • Temporary causes: colds or allergies.

“Only breathing in and out through the mouth can indicate specific pathologies and lead to others”


Now that we’ve gone over the causes that can obstruct breathing through the nose, we’ll look at the consequences. The most evident consequences are the following:

  • Episodes of coughing and snoring during the night.
  • Sleep apnea.
  • Malformations of the jaw and a wide pallet.
  • Atypical swallowing.
  • Hearing problems.
  • Sinus infection.
  • Hearing infection.
  • The presence of bags under your child’s eyes.
  • Weakness.
  • Dry lips.

Medical solutions

As you can see from the above information, this issue can be the result of a variety of causes. Some of these, fortunately, are temporary. Once you observe that your little one is breathing through his or her mouth, then you should see your pediatrician. 

A medical specialist will be able to determine the cause and refer you to the correct specialist. This may be a pulmonologist, ear nose and throat doctor, or an orthodontist.

Another possibility is that your pediatrician recommends you seek treatment with a speech therapist. This professional is specialized in issues related to speech and hearing. 

Treatment will involve one of two types of therapy. The first is called respiratory therapy including both passive and active exercises. The second type is myofunctional orofacial therapy.

What to Do When Children Breathe Through Their Mouths

During respiratory therapy, your child will perform exercises that allow him or her to reprogram the brain to eliminate incorrect breathing. This therapy is based on physical exercises and mental conditioning.

The second methodology, on the other hand, consists of correcting problems involving low muscle tone or swallowing issues related to obstructions.

As a final clarification, it’s worth pointing out the fact that breathing through the mouth affects children’s health in a number of ways.

So much so, that many children who breathe only through their mouths have problems at school. What’s more, many are unable to perform physical exercise.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.