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Mouth Breathing & Optimal Oral Resting Posture

Having an inadequate oral resting posture can impact speech and feeding due to a variety of factors:

1. Speech production: If your child is mouth breathing, this can affect the way their sounds are produced and cause speech sound distortions and substitutions. Prosper articulation of sounds relies on precise coordination of the tongue, lips, and other Articulatory, which can be compromised by chronic mouth breathing.

  • Nasal Resonance- Nasal Resonance refers to the airflow/ vibrations from the vocal cords that pass through the nasal passages to enhance certain speech sounds. Nasal resonance is important for producing many speech sounds. Mouth breathing can result in a lack of appropriate nasal resonance, affecting the quality and clarity of speech.

2. Feeding and Swallowing:

  • Chewing Difficulty: Breathing through the mouth while eating can make it challenging to coordinate chewing and swallowing. Proper oral motor control is necessary for safe and effective swallowing.

  • Increased Risk of Aspiration: Mouth breathers may be at a higher risk of aspirating (inhaling food or liquids into the airway) during eating and drinking. Breathing through the mouth while swallowing can lead to a greater likelihood of food or liquids entering the windpipe.

  • Limited Sensory Input: Breathing through the nose helps provide sensory feedback to the brain during eating. This feedback helps with chewing, swallowing, and recognizing the sensation of being full. Mouth breathers might miss out on this sensory input which can negatively affect speech and language development and overall oral awareness.

3. Oral Posture: Chronic mouth breathing often leads to an open mouth posture, which can negatively affect oral muscle tone and alignment. This can contribute to dental issues, tongue thrust, and difficulties with oral motor coordination.

4. Dental and Facial Development:

  • Dental Misalignments: Mouth breathing can contribute to orthodontic problems such as crowded teeth, open bites, and misaligned jaws.

  • Facial Structure: Proper nasal breathing promotes proper facial growth and development, while mouth breathing can lead to a narrower upper jaw, flatter facial profile, and other structural changes.

Addressing mouth breathing is often a multidisciplinary approach in which SLPs collaborate with other healthcare professionals such as ENTs, pediatricians, allergists, dentists, and/or orthodontists. These specialists can all collaborate in order to identify the underlying cause of mouth breathing allowing for a comprehensive approach in addressing the root cause and its effect on speech and swallowing. Reach out to one of our clinicians if you have concerns that your child’s mouth breathing is having a negative affect on their development.


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