top of page

The Truth About an Open Mouth Posture

Updated: Aug 30, 2022

Have you ever been told that your child should breathe through their nose? If this is news to you, you’re not alone. Mouth breathing is an area of concern which is rarely spoken about but should be a hot topic of conversation. And this is due to the negative impact that mouth breathing can have on the body and overall health.

mouth breathing is not healthy. Our body should nasal breath for better sleep quality and overall health
Mouth breathing may look cute, but is actually detrimental to overall health

To keep to the relevant field, sleep is an area which can be affected in a negative way when the body is taking air through the mouth. Do you know how important it is for the body to be breathing through the nose? You’d be surprise at just how important nasal breathing is. Is this sparking an interest for you? Well, read on...

When we nasal breathe, a chemical messenger named nitric oxide, which is made by the nose and the sinuses, goes down into the lungs and sends a signal to the blood vessels and triggers them to open. As a result, more blood flows through them and the gas exchange between carbon dioxide and oxygen is correct. This essentially means that our body is absorbing the right amounts of oxygen, making the body beautiful balanced, commonly referred to as homeostasis.

Once the body starts mouth breathing, or the tongue posture is incorrect which compromises the breathing, there is no nitric oxide which means there is no signal to send the blood to where it is best to be for the exchange between oxygen and carbon dioxide. And this means that the body is no longer balanced as the gas exchange is incorrect.

The body will over-breathe as a result but the oxygen will be absorbed less. In the instance of sleep, when the body is asleep, the brain will remain on high alert because ‘oxygen levels are low’. This mouth-breathing/sub-optimal tongue positioning is a precursor of ‘sleep disordered breathing’ (SDB).

Sleep Disordered Breathing is an umbrella term for a range of breathing disorders whilst asleep and essentially means lower levels of oxygen than ideally required. In hard reality, the brain is starving of oxygen and panics when asleep as it believes that the body is suffocating or chocking. As mentioned, the brain remains on high alert and can prevent any person from falling into deep sleep, and can cause many negative sleep presentations. SDB also affects the sleep quality as the brain remains on ‘look-out’ to keep itself safe during these times of low oxygen.

SDB is a medical concern, and is a leading cause of sleep difficulty however, your child does not have to be mouth-breathing to suffer from sleep disordered breathing.

Sleep disordered breathing, snoring, mouth breathing, nasal breathing, audible breathing, loud breathing, chronic snoring, osa, obstructive sleep apnoea, apnoea, sleep apnoea
The range of sleep disordered breathing from least concerning to most concerning

Sleep disordered breathing can present in many ways, whether your child is mouth-breathing frequently or occasionally, even if they are not mouth breathing at all but their tongue posture is incorrect, or whether their lips are only slightly parted or open wide.

Any of the fields on the above spectrum will indicate sleep disordered breathing and to truly resolve this, we need to understand what is causing your child to mouth breathing, or have incorrect tongue posture.

Some symptoms associated with Sleep Disordered Breathing Symptoms are listed below, but are not exhaustive:

signs and symptoms of sleep disordered breathing, loud breathing, audible breathing, snoring, mouth breathing, open mouth posture, restless sleep, frequent night wakes, sleep resistance, difficulty falling asleep, short sleep patterns, catnapping, parasomnias, sleep walking, sleep talking, night terrors, sweaty sleep

Since mouth breathing can certainly lead to sleep disordered breathing, it is super important that we reverse the oral posture and ensure that the tongue is in the roof of the mouth, and the lips are sealed therefore resulting in a closed-mouth posture, commencing nasal breathing.

Mouth-breathing and sleep disordered breathing is a field of speciality for me and I have training and knowledge in the area. Through my one on on one consulting, it is important for me to explore root issues to problematic sleep and whilst I do not assess exactly how your child is breathing, I am able to assess your child for risk factors and presenting symptoms of SDB. I also explore why your child may have sub-optimal tongue positioning and discuss this with you. You will most likely need a health care professional to formally assess and manage your child’s oral posture and create a personalised approach to work towards adequate nasal breathing, but I will refer to you to the required specialist.

If your child is mouth breathing, or presenting with any of the SDB symptoms and you would like some further help to navigate this, then a 1:1 consultation is your best option for optimal navigation and support. You can start with a 15 minute discovery call and mention that your child is mouth breathing to get started and explore your options.

Forever bringing sleep to families,

Shereen xx

My name is Shereen Nielsen and I am a certified infant and child sleep consult, working with children aged birth to 12 years. I am also a lecturer and mentor for students on their journey towards becoming a Sleep Consultant, through my on-line internationally recognised sleep consultants course.

If you would like more information about my services please contact me:

Phone: +61419820474


bottom of page