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Journal Article Review – Impact of the mouth breathing occurred during childhood in the adult age

Impact of the mouth breathing occurred during childhood in the adult age: Biophotogrammetric postural analysis. Jovana M. Milanesi et al International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology 75: 9990-1004 2011

This novel study shows a clear relationship between children who breathe predominately through their mouth, and later postural malalignments as these same individuals age into adulthood.

Because fascial growth progresses at a higher rate than the rest of the skeleton in the first years of life, the mode of respiration in this period is fundamental to adequate development of the entire musculoskeletal system. When not physiologic and conducted by the mouth, breathing tends to provoke changes in face and neck structures, which have the potential to extend to the trunk and limbs.

Extension of the head out in front of the body is the primary postural change observed in mouth breathing subjects. Head extension occurs when accessory inspiratory muscles (scalene, sternocleidomastoid and upper trapezius) become overused in response to the nasal obstruction necessary to facilitate oral inspiration. This deviation from normal breathing is referred to as Mouth Breathing Syndrome.

The experiment included 24 study subjects and 20 controls18 to 30 years of age who had a history of mouth breathing based on childhood speech therapy records. Inclusion criteria were clinical manifestations of mouth breathing such as snoring, drooling on the pillow, the mouth open most of the day and/or during sleeping. Other etiological factors such as allergic rhinitis, enlarged adenoids or tonsils, nasal septum deviation and nasal polyps were also considered.

Postural study was carried out using biophotogrammetric analysis. Styrofoam balls were adhered to standing subjects at strategic anatomic points and then photographed. Lines were drawn between points and angles measured to show the amount of structural deviation from normal. Significant postural differences were shown between the two groups.

Respiratory and postural dysfunction is associated with the way forward head posture intensifies inspiratory effort and decreases respiratory muscular strength. Head extension occurs as a functional response to the nasal obstruction of mouth breathing.

Whole Woman® posture reverses all of the postural malalignments identified in this study.

{ 4 comments… add one }
  • Teresa January 29, 2013, 1:40 am

    No, Louise, I was not constantly told as a child to close my mouth. Mouth breathing is a very ugly habit that causes bad breath and various other medical issues as well as the strange ‘head poked forward’ posture referred to in the article. It is uncomfortable and distressing to both the mouth breather and to the people around them. Oddly enough many mouth breathers are unaware of the habit and hence do nothing to correct it. From my own experience I know that unblocking my nasal passages gave me glorious relief, and it wasn’t until then that I realised how uncomfortable I had been for so long. I also realised that I no longer had bad breath due to a dry mouth, and was no longer embarrassed to get close to people. I just wish that Steve Bisley. David Schwimmer and other mouth breathers would see an E.N.T. Specialist and have something done about their repellent mouth breathing.

  • Patrick McKeown September 27, 2011, 11:07 am

    I am delighted to read an article which makes sense, is accurate and highlights a habit that is very common but which the vast majority of health professionals have little knowledge about.
    I was a mouth breather for many years. Twelve years ago, I learned to unblock my nose and switch to nasal breathing. It was the single most important thing I have ever done to address my own health.
    It is well documented that mouth breathing causes cranio-facial changes, crooked teeth, sleep problems, breathing problems, poor concentration and a myriad of other problems.
    It is several years since I wrote a book called Close Your Mouth which specifically explains about to address this seemingly innocuous habit.
    Patrick McKeown

  • Louise September 4, 2011, 3:36 am

    Hey Teresa, Forgive me for saying this, but your response to others having their mouth open too much for your sensibilities does carry quite emotional (judgemental?) overtones. When you were a child and breathing through your mouth a lot, I wonder if your parents were continually telling you to shut your mouth, and now you tend to do the same thing to others? I can relate to this, because my husband keeps his mouth open a lot, particularly while on the phone, and when he has been public speaking, and in stressful group negotiations on the previous day. We have both learned Buteyko breathing, I for asthma and my husband for sinus problems and sleep apnoea, but I do get annoyed when he mouth breathes, because he is sabotaging himself unnecessarily. I always seem to be telling him to shut his mouth, which probably annoys him, because I have caught him out again! Perhaps the same things were happening in your family?

  • Teresa September 2, 2011, 10:37 pm

    I find this article fascinating. I have observed many people whose posture exemplifies this ‘head poked forward’ tendency. I always assumed it was because they had not been taught to ‘stand up straight’ as children, and thought it looked very ugly. I have also observed, both on television and in films, that certain actors have terrible ‘adenoidal’ voices, and always sound as if they have a bad cold with a blocked nose. These actors can also be observed to keep their mouths open a great deal of the time, and again I have always thought this to be a very ugly habit. I always want to shout at them, ‘Shut your mouth!!’ For much of my childhood I, too, was a mouth breather, as I suffered from severe allergic rhinitis that was particularly bad during spring but was also present at other times of the year. I had a severe allergy to house dust mites, to cats, and to certain pollens, especially rye grass. After a two- or three-year course of desensitisation injections in my teens, my allergic symptoms improved but did not disappear. In my twenties my nasal blockage was so severe that I was advised to have a bilateral medial turbinectomy (basically a re-bore of my blocked nasal passages). This was an excruciating operation but the end result was miraculous – for the first time in memory I could breathe freely and also for the first time I could SING!! I can still remember the wonderful feeling of breathing and singing with ease. The downside of the operation, however, was that it left me extremely vulnerable to sinus infections which plagued me for many years. I do wonder why so many mouth-breathers, and ESPECIALLY the actors I’ve mentioned (e.g. David Schwimmer from ‘Friends’, and Steve Bisley, an Australian actor) don’t have their adenoids, deviated septums, or whatever, attended to !

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