Dr. Pete Nathe can help your child correct a habit of mouth breathing so that his or her face and jaws can grow and develop properly and minimize the need for future orthodontic treatment. Yakima Smiles will work with you and your child to develop proper breathing habits for overall health. Call Yakima Smiles today at (509) 965-7909 to schedule your child’s appointment with our friendly dentist and learn more about the harmful effects of mouth breathing in Yakima, Washington.


The Damaging Effects of Mouth Breathing, Poor Oral Posture and Myofunctional Habits in your Baby and Developing Child


It is critical to your child’s proper facial growth, airway development and jaw joint health that the child consistently and exclusively nasal breath and that the child maintains proper oral posture (lips together at rest) and that all damaging myofunctional (oral and tongue) habits are eliminated.

Tongue position is largely responsible for the normal growth and development of the face and jaws. The tongue is a powerful muscle and should rest against the upper palate (roof of mouth) and cause the upper jaw to broaden and grow forward in the healthy and aesthetically appealing manner. When this does not happen, because of mouth breathing and open mouth posture, the midface does not grow properly and the lower face narrows and elongates. At Yakima Smiles, we screen for this abnormal facial growth, by measuring the child’s “cosmetic line” and by analyzing the child’s sagittal photograph with the computerized Bolton Analysis. Facial feature defects that are noted in the mouth-breathing child include:



  • High narrow palate/narrow maxillary arch
  • Mid-face deficiency
  • Flattened face
  • Elongated lower face
  • Narrow face
  • Recessed chin/jaw
  • Sunken cheeks
  • Small jaws without room for all the permanent teeth


Not only does mouth breathing and poor oral rest cause changes in facial growth, they also impact the child’s long- term health because the jaws, palate and airways develop abnormally and lead to:

  • Future TMJ issues
  • Current or future Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Headaches/shoulder & neck pain/poor posture
  • Dental crowding and malocclusion

The causes of mouth-breathing include:

  • Enlarged tonsils and adenoids
  • Allergies
  • Frequents viral infections
  • Chronic open mouth posture
  • Myofunctional (tongue) habits


Signs that your child may be a mouth-breather:


  • Lips not together at rest
  • Snoring and restless sleep
  • Mouth open when sleeping
  • Grinds teeth
  • Constant stuffy nose
  • Large tonsils
  • Allergic shiners under eyes
  • Fatigue, attention deficit


It is so important for the child’s current and future health as well as to the aesthetic development of the child’s face that nasal patency and consistent nasal breathing are established and maintained. Yakima Smiles will provide complementary screening with Bolton Analysis to evaluate the child’s facial growth and can refer the child to an ENT and/or allergist if indicated. The two main food allergens are dairy and gluten. Dr. Nathe encourages parents to be very proactive in monitoring this aspect of their child’s health and appearance and to insist on treatment and intervention when necessary to ensure proper face and jaw development and a lifetime free from jaw joint pain and obstructive sleep apnea. Dr. Pete Nathe of Yakima Smiles will do a free facial growth analysis if you would like.

If mouth breathing has already resulted in some detrimental growth patterns, these can be addressed by talking to Dr. Nathe about a growth appliance that re-directs the growth of the jaws in the proper direction. Contact our office today for more information.


Poor growth due to mouth breathing