Mouth breathing causes forward head posture

1. Breathing through the mouth modifies head position

Our study confirms that the oral breathing modifies head position. The significant increase of the craniocervical angles NSL/OPT and NSL/CVT in patients with this altered breathing pattern suggests an elevation of the head and a greater extension of the head compared with the cervical spine.

Minerva Stomatol. 2015 Apr; 64(2):59-74

2. Relationship between mouth breathing and postural alterations of children

The research within this article seeks to verify and demonstrate the consequences of mouth breathing versus nasal respiration and to view supposed postural alterations in groups of children within specific age ranges.

The authors state that children with nasal respiration, age 8 and above, present with better posture than those who continue oral breathing beyond age 8. The importance of picture documentation is stressed in order to provide the most information regarding postural changes. A review of research and literature is provided in the article.

Int J Orofacial Myology. 2000 Nov;26:13-23.Relationship between mouth breathing and postural alterations of children: a descriptive analysis. Krakauer LH, Guilherme A. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11307345

3. Chronic and habitual mouth breathing is also associated with postural changes resulting in decreased muscle strength, reduced chest expansion and impaired pulmonary ventilation.

In 2011, Brazilian researchers Okuro and colleagues from Campinas State University conducted a study to evaluate exercise tolerance, respiratory muscle strength and body posture in mouth breathing compared to nasal breathing children. Children with asthma, obesity, chronic respiratory diseases, neurological and orthopedic disorders, and cardiac conditions were excluded.

Of the 107 children, 45 were mouth breathers and 62 were nasal breathers. Examination revealed that 80% of mouth breathing and 48.4% of nasal breathing children had abnormal cervical posture and breathing pattern.

Researchers concluded that “mouth breathing children had cervical spine postural changes and decreased respiratory muscle strength compared with nasal breathing.”

Okuro RT, Morcillo AM, Sakano E, Schivinski CI, Ribeiro MÂ, Ribeiro JD. Braz J Otorhinolaryngol. 2011 Sep-Oct;77(5):656-62. Exercise capacity, respiratory mechanics and posture in mouth breathers. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22030977

4. Mouth breathing and forward head posture: effects on respiratory biomechanics and exercise capacity in children.

In another study to evaluate submaximal exercise tolerance and respiratory muscle strength in mouth breathing and nasal breathing children. A total of 92 children aged between 8 and 12 years were studied, of which 30 were mouth breathers and 6 were nasal breathers.

Following the study, the paper concluded that respiratory biomechanics and exercise capacity were negatively affected by mouth breathing. J Bras Pneumol. 2011 Jul-Aug;37(4):471-9.Mouth breathing and forward head posture: effects on respiratory biomechanics and exercise capacity in children.

Okuro RT, Morcillo AM, Ribeiro MÂ, Sakano E, Conti PB, Ribeiro JD.

5. Assessment of the body posture of mouth-breathing children and adolescents.

Results from the above studies are confirmed by another paper entitled “Assessment of the body posture of mouth-breathing children and adolescents.”

It was reported following a study of 306 mouth breathing and 124 nasal breathing children that “postural problems were significantly more common among children in the group with mouth breathing syndrome, highlighting the need for early interdisciplinary treatment of this syndrome.” Interestingly, researchers noted that mouth breathers were more likely to be male.

J Pediatr (Rio J). 2011 Jul-Aug;87(4):357-63. Epub 2011 Jul 18. Assessment of the body posture of mouth-breathing children and adolescents. Conti PB, Sakano E, Ribeiro MA, Schivinski CI, Ribeiro JD. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21769416

6. Orientation and position of head posture, scapula and thoracic spine in mouth-breathing children

Mouth-breathing is a common clinical condition among school-age children and some studies have correlated this condition with quality of life and postural alterations.

Therefore, the objective of this study was to investigate the orientation and position of the scapula, thoracic spine and head posture among mouth-breathing (MB) children and nasal-breathing (NB) children.

Mouth Breathing children increased scapular superior position in comparison to Nasal Breathing children due probably to the position of forward head, leading to an alteration in the positioning of the mandible. The absence of significantly difference in posture pattern between groups in the present study could attributed to height-weight development in this age, as the posture of children changes in order to adapt to new body proportions, regardless of health status.

The results observed in this study demonstrate the importance of using reliable measurements in the postural assessment of MB and NB children helping physical therapists to focus their strategies during rehabilitation in more specific conditions.

Int J Neiva PD, Kirkwood RN, Godinho R. Pediatr Otorhinolaryngol. 2009 Feb;73(2):227-36. Epub 2008 Dec 3. Orientation and position of head posture, scapula and thoracic spine in mouth-breathing children. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19056131

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