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.
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